World Round-up: US missile strike kills 20 in Pakistan

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American-fired missiles killed 20 Islamist militants in northwest Pakistan today, most of them members of a powerful insurgent network fighting the US presence in Afghanistan, Pakistani intelligence officials said.

Two missiles slammed into a house close to the town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan, a militant hotspot that lies just across the border from Afghanistan, the officials said.

Pressure mounts on Assad to end Syria's brutal purge

Syrian president Bashar Assad came under a new barrage of international pressure with the Turkish foreign minister urging him to stop killing protesters and US officials saying the Obama administration is preparing to explicitly demand his departure.

Even as Mr Assad held more than six hours of talks with the visiting Turkish minister yesterday, his military unleashed fresh attacks on restive areas, attacks that activists said killed more than 20 people.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he met the Syrian leader for more than six hours in the capital Damascus and discussed "concrete steps" to end the violent crackdown on protesters.

Rights groups say about 1700 people have been killed since March. An aggressive new military offensive that began a week ago has killed several hundred.

Speaking to reporters on his return to Turkey, Mr Davutoglu said the talks were cordial but did not say what specific steps they had discussed or whether Mr Assad had agreed to consider them.

"The coming days will be important to see if the expectations are being met," he said. Chile leader backs partner rights

Chile's conservative president proposed civil unions legislation that would give unmarried partners many of the rights now enjoyed only by married couples.

Gays and lesbians lauded Sebastian Pinera's signature on the proposal as a big step toward equality.

Screams halt parliament

Opposition politicians paralysed India's parliament today with screaming demonstrations against the government.

The protesters were demanding the resignation of New Delhi's top elected official over her role in last year's scandal-hit Commonwealth Games.

Victory for 'drug queen'

A MEXICAN federal court panel said an accused drug cartel "queen" cannot be extradited to the US on a charge for which she was acquitted in Mexico.

The appeals court also has upheld the ruling of a judge who acquitted Sandra Avila Beltran on drug-trafficking, money-laundering and organised-crime charges in December, citing lack of evidence.

Both rulings deal a blow to US and Mexican efforts to prosecute Avila, known as the Queen of the Pacific.

China starts aircraft carrier trial

Sea trials have started for China's first aircraft carrier.

Xinhua News Agency said the carrier left Dalian province this morning.

Citing unnamed military sources, Xinhua said the sea trial was in line with the schedule to rebuild the carrier, which China bought more than a decade ago.

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