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AFGHANISTAN

Aid group warns on trade pact

KABUL — Afghanistan, seeking membership in the World Trade Organization by 2010, risks undermining efforts to rebuild its shattered economy unless it treads more cautiously, the international aid group Oxfam said this week.

In a major report, the group said that instead of opening new markets for Afghanistan’s exports, WTO membership could herald a flood of cheap imports that will stifle attempts to resurrect the manufacturing sector.

Afghanistan’s economy is in ruins following decades of conflict, and despite massive amounts of aid since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2001, the country remains one of the world’s poorest.

NEPAL

Officials nix square snuggling

KATMANDU — Couples should stop cuddling and kissing near a revered square surrounded by palaces and temples in Nepal’s capital because it shows a lack of respect for religion, a committee warned this week.

Durbar Square, a United Nations “world heritage site” and a popular destination for foreign backpackers, boasts a series of Hindu and Buddhist shrines that date back to the 16th century.

But the square, which is home to a young girl revered as a living goddess and was the seat of Nepal’s kings until the 1960s, has also become a popular spot for lovebirds to gather in the evening.

From wire dispatches and staff reports