World Briefs / Rebels hold American vet

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CARACAS, Venezuela -- Colombia's largest rebel group said Friday it took a former U.S. service member hostage last month and it now planned to release him as a sign of good will during continuing peace talks with the government.

In a communique posted on its website, the group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, which is known as FARC, identified the American as Kevin Scott Sutay and said he had served in the U.S. military from November 2009 until last March and had participated in the war in Afghanistan. It said he was an expert in land-mine removal.

On Saturday, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota released a statement saying Mr. Sutay had no current ties with U.S. armed forces.

But the FARC said Mr. Sutay's presence in the region was proof of the participation in Colombia of "American soldiers and mercenaries in counterinsurgency operations" in the guise of private contractors.

Egypt shifts Syria policy

CAIRO -- Egypt's interim foreign minister Saturday sought to distance the new government's policy on Syria from that of former President Mohammed Morsi, who helped make Egypt a hub for Syrian opposition groups and a destination for refugees fleeing the war.

The foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy, also singled out Ethiopia for criticism for not working to resolve a dispute over access to water in the Nile River.

Before he was deposed by the military July 3, Mr. Morsi and senior officials in his government had seemed to condone the participation of Egyptian militants in the Syrian civil war. On Saturday, Mr. Fahmy said that while Egypt would continue to support the "Syrian revolution" and was not considering restoring relations with the government of President Bashar Assad, "there is no intention to go for jihad."

G20 aims for more growth

MOSCOW -- The Group of 20's finance ministers said Saturday their countries consider strengthening economic growth and creating jobs to be top priorities.

In a communique at the end of their meeting in Moscow, the ministers noted that although there are signs of stronger economies in the United States and Japan, the group of 17 European Union countries that use the euro continues to suffer from recession and that economic growth in emerging markets is comparatively slow.

Venezuela-U.S. relations

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela announced late Friday it was stopping the latest round of on-again, off-again efforts to improve relations with the United States in reaction to comments by the Obama administration's nominee for U.N. ambassador.

The nominee, Samantha Power, speaking before a Senate committee Wednesday, said part of her role as ambassador would be to challenge a "crackdown on civil society" in several countries, including Venezuela.

Also in the world ...

Five employees of an Italian cruise company were convicted Saturday of manslaughter in the Costa Concordia shipwreck that killed 32 people, receiving sentences of less than three years that lawyers for victims and survivors criticized as too lenient. ... A man in a wheelchair with apparent grievances against authorities set off a homemade bomb at Beijing International Airport on Saturday night, according to Chinese state media, injuring only himself.

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