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Ancient Gospel book sold for $14.3 million

LONDON (AP) -- The British Library has paid $14.3 million to acquire the St. Cuthbert Gospel, a remarkably well-preserved survivor of seventh-century Britain described by the library as the oldest European book to survive fully intact.

The palm-sized book, a manuscript copy of the Gospel of John in Latin, was bought from the British branch of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the library said Monday.

The book measures 3.8 inches by 5.4 inches and has an elaborately tooled red leather cover. It comes from the time of St. Cuthbert, who died in 687. It was discovered inside his coffin when it was opened in 1104 at Durham Cathedral.

The British Library said the artifact is one of the world's most important books.

"To look at this small and intensely beautiful treasure from the Anglo-Saxon period is to see it exactly as those who created it in the seventh century would have seen it," said the library's chief executive, Lynne Brindley.

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U.N. leader urges access for monitors

BEIRUT (AP) -- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday the Syrian government is responsible for guaranteeing U.N. observers full freedom of movement to monitor the country's tenuous cease-fire, which appeared to be unraveling as regime forces pounded the opposition stronghold of Homs, activists said.

Although overall violence in Syria has dropped significantly since the truce took effect Thursday, the government's shelling of the central city of Homs over the past four days raised doubts about President Bashar Assad's commitment to special envoy Kofi Annan's plan to end 13 months of violence.