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> ISRAEL

Beck issues support for Jerusalem in rally

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Former Fox TV personality Glenn Beck capped a contentious visit to Israel on Wednesday with a strong call of support for the Jewish state in a rally alongside a hotly disputed holy site in Jerusalem's Old City.

The conservative commentator has won fans among Israel's far-right with his pro-Israel, anti-Muslim rhetoric, and 2,000 people turned out to hear him speak next to the compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

"The only message that I have for Israel and the Israelis is this: My friends, do not lose hope, you must not lose confidence in yourself You must draw courage from the knowledge that you were led to this land by God," he said.

Israeli religious figures and left-wing politicians came together in an unusual alliance to appeal to Israelis to shun his embrace. Religious Jews worried that he came to spread the Christian gospel, while dovish Israelis rejected Beck's support for West Bank Jewish settlements.

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> RUSSIA

North Korea ready for nuclear talks

MOSCOW (AP) -- North Korean leader Kim Jong Il said Wednesday his country is ready to impose a nuclear test and production moratorium if international talks on its atomic program resume, in Pyongyang's latest effort to restart long-stalled, aid-for-disarmament talks.

It remains to be seen, however, whether Kim's reported gesture at a summit with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will satisfy the most skeptical of the five other nations at talks meant to end the North's nuclear weapons ambitions -- the United States, South Korea and Japan.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday that Kim's reported offer to refrain from nuclear and missile tests was "a welcome first step" but not enough to restart six-party disarmament talks. Kim, at the summit in eastern Siberia, reportedly made no mention of an issue that lies at the heart of negotiators' worries: North Korea's recently revealed uranium enrichment program.

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> JAPAN

Officials to triple areas checked for radiation

TOKYO (Bloomberg News) -- Japan will more than triple the number of regions it checks for airborne radiation as more contaminated "hot spots" are discovered far from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s crippled Fukushima nuclear power station.

The government said Wednesday it will increase radiation monitoring by helicopter to 22 prefectures from the six closest to the plant, which began spewing radiation after an earthquake and tsunami struck the station in March.

The plan comes after radioactive waste more than double the regulatory limit was found 125 miles from the plant this week.

Authorities have been too slow to widen airborne radiation testing, said Tetsuo Ito, the head of Kinki University's Atomic Energy Research Institute in Osaka.

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