U.S. envoy hopeful

on N. Korea talks

BEIJING - The U.S. envoy to talks on North Korea's nuclear disarmament, Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, said today that he believed there was potential for progress in the next round of negotiations and that China soon would announce a start date.

Hill's comments, made after talks with Chinese officials, followed pledges by the key players, the United States and North Korea, to strive for progress in the slow-moving negotiations.

The Chinese-organized international talks took on added urgency after North Korea alarmed its neighbors in October by testing a nuclear bomb. But the latest round ended in December in Beijing with no breakthroughs. - AP

Captured fighters

handed to Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Kenya has handed over 34 Islamic militiamen to Somalia's transitional government, the Somali government spokesman said yesterday, asserting that some of them may be senior leaders of the country's Islamic movement.

Kenya flew the militiamen to Somalia under armed guard Saturday, the same day the Somali government received a boost when the last major warlord turned over his weapons and militia.

Kenyan border patrols arrested the men in the last few weeks after Somalia's western neighbor closed its border, said Abdirahman Dinari, the Somali government spokesman. He said the government was investigating the identities of the men and soon would make the details public. - AP

An arrest in killing

of Turkish writer

ISTANBUL, Turkey - A teenage boy has confessed to fatally shooting an ethnic Armenian journalist outside his newspaper office in a daytime attack, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Ogun Samast, who is either 16 or 17 years old, was caught in the Black Sea city of Samsun late Saturday, a day after Hrant Dink was gunned down in Istanbul. Police said the youth was captured with the aid of a tip from his father after his pictures were broadcast on Turkish television.

Chief prosecutor Ahmet Cokcinar said the teenager had confessed during initial questioning in Samsun to killing Dink, 52. He declined to give any further details. - AP

Elsewhere:

Iran announced yesterday that it would stage new tests of short-range missiles. State television said the Revolutionary Guards planned to begin three days of testing the short-range Zalzal and Fajr-5 missiles.