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North's call for talks brings swift dismissal

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea called Wednesday for "unconditional and early" talks with rival South Korea to put an end to months of tensions. Seoul quickly dismissed the offer as insincere and said it's waiting for an apology for two deadly attacks blamed on Pyongyang.

North Korea, which rarely makes such offers to South Korea issued the statement as Stephen W. Bosworth, the U.S. special representative on the North was in the region to discuss the standoff. Earlier in the day, Bosworth sought to calm fears of conflict on the peninsula.

Tensions between the two Koreas have been at their highest level in years since North Korea showered artillery on a South Korean-held island near their disputed maritime border in November, killing four South Koreans. The attack, the first on a civilian area since the 1950-53 Korean War, occurred not far from where a torpedo sank a South Korean warship eight months early, killing 46 sailors.


Attacks foiled; bombs kill 3 NATO troops

KABUL (AP) -- Afghanistan's intelligence agencies said Wednesday they had thwarted two major attacks in Kabul in the past 20 days, while three NATO service members were killed by roadside bombs.

The arrests highlighted the often underplayed dangers confronting the Afghan capital, which has largely been spared the kind of major attacks over the past year that have struck other parts of the country.

In Kabul, Latifullah Mashal, spokesman for the intelligence agencies, said authorities arrested five people plotting a suicide bomb attack at the home of First Vice President Marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim.

The other foiled attack involved plans for a bombing near President Hamid Karzai's palace, Mashal said.

Separately, NATO said three of its service members were killed by roadside bombs, one in southern Afghanistan and two in the east. The deaths brought to six the number of coalition service members killed since the start of the year. A record 702 NATO service members were killed last year.


Coffee spill triggers hijacking alert

TORONTO (AP) -- A pilot's spilled coffee accidentally triggered a hijacking alert and caused a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Frankfurt, Germany, to make an unscheduled stop in Canada.

A Transport Canada report said United Flight 940 was diverted to Toronto late Monday and landed safely at Pearson International Airport.

An emergency was declared, and Canada's defense department was notified. But with the help of United dispatch staff, the flight crew confirmed the problem to be a communication issue and not a hijacking.

The report said the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration reported that United's corporate office had indicated that the pilot "had inadvertently squawked a 7500 code after spilling coffee on the aircraft's radio equipment, which interfered with the communications equipment."


Ex-Navy ship sunk to become attraction

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) -- Contractors began flooding a decommissioned U.S. Navy ship Wednesday to sink it in the clear waters off the Cayman Islands, where officials hope the vessel will attract tourists and fish.

Plans called for the USS Kittiwake, a 1945-vintage submarine rescue ship, to rest on the bottom off Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach. The 47-foot-tall ship will be at a depth of 62 feet, so the top deck should be close to the Caribbean Sea's surface, making it easily accessible for snorkelers and divers.

Crews were carefully flooding the battered hulk in hopes the 2,200-ton ship would settle upright. Holes were punched in the hull, and large pumps were gradually piping sea water into the ship.

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