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Darfur rebels signal willingness to talk

ARUSHA — Almost all of Darfur’s splintered rebel factions have agreed to hold peace talks with the Sudanese government within three months, U.N. and African Union officials said yesterday.

After four days of meetings, the rebel factions reached a “common platform” for talks with the government on issues such as power- and wealth-sharing, security, land and humanitarian issues, said the AU envoy to Darfur, Salim Ahmed Salim, and the United Nations’ special envoy to Darfur, Jan Eliasson, in a statement released after the meeting.

CHINA

Journalists arrested for public protest

BEIJING — Police detained journalists at a rare protest yesterday in Beijing, staged by a free-press advocacy group that accuses the government of failing to meet promises for greater media freedom one year ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The detentions, which came during a visit to China by International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge, followed the unfurling of posters depicting the Olympic rings made from handcuffs by members of Reporters Without Borders on a pedestrian bridge outside the headquarters of the Beijing Olympics planning committee.

THAILAND

Bad cops to wear pink badge of shame

BANGKOK — Thai police officers who break rules will be forced to wear hot-pink armbands featuring “Hello Kitty,” the Japanese icon of cute, as a mark of shame, a senior officer said yesterday.

Police officers caught littering, parking in a prohibited area or arriving late will be forced to stay in the division office and wear the armband all day, said Police Col. Pongpat Chayaphan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports