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WHO: Nations may not be able to stop bird flu

The World Health Organization warned Monday that the rapid spread of avian flu in poultry across Asia may be outstripping the ability of developing countries to contain the virus and reduce the risk that it will mutate into a form more easily spread among humans.

Outbreaks have now been confirmed in eight countries, including Pakistan, where officials announced Monday they had found diseased chickens in Karachi. About 1.5-million chickens have died from the virus in Pakistan, a senior agriculture minister said.

Pakistan is the first country outside East Asia to confirm that its poultry has been infected, though officials there said they were still checking whether it was the same strain that has killed at least six people in Vietnam and one in Thailand.

Diplomats grind into gear

on Mideast peace

JERUSALEM _ Mideast diplomacy picked up Monday after a long stalemate, with Egypt planning to send its foreign minister to the Palestinian areas to try to broker a cease-fire.

Also, two senior U.S. officials were scheduled to visit the region this week hoping to revive the "road map" peace plan.

The moves come with peace efforts between Israel and the Palestinians at a standstill. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has threatened to impose a boundary on the Palestinians if there is no progress in the next few months.

Powell chides Russia, says

U.S. plans no Georgia base

MOSCOW _ Secretary of State Colin Powell criticized curbs on free elections and the news media, as well as the Russian campaign in Chechnya, in meetings with the Russian president on Monday and in an essay in a Russian newspaper. His words were the toughest public stance to date by a Bush administration official.

"Certain developments in Russian politics and foreign policy in recent months have given us pause," Powell said in his essay, published Monday in the newspaper Izvestia. Powell said he raised these concerns in seven hours of meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and other officials at the Kremlin.

Seeking to soothe fears of growing rivalry along Russia's borders, Powell also said the United States has no plans to create military bases in Georgia.

Murder plot delays chief's

return to Paraguay

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil _ Paraguayan President Nicanor Duarte Frutos delayed by one day his return from a beach vacation in Brazil after intelligence services detected a plot to assassinate him, Duarte told reporters Monday.

The daily Ultima Hora, where Duarte once worked as a reporter, said on its Web site late Monday that Brazilian and Paraguayan intelligence services had learned about six hired assassins with machine guns and shoulder-fired weapons capable of downing the president's aircraft. No arrests were reported.

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