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EU ministers at stalemate on refugee relocation plan

BRUSSELS — European Union ministers failed Thursday to agree on relocating 40,000 of the refugees making risky boat trips from North Africa to Italy and Greece and will try again later this month to broker a deal on how many people each country will accept.

The stalemate came a day after the U.N. refugee agency announced that data from Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain showed that 137,000 people had arrived in those countries between January and June, 83 percent more than the same time last year, and 1,867 people had died making the crossing, up from 588 a year earlier.

"The debate we've had today has been difficult. It's a very sensitive issue," said Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, whose country hosted Thursday's ministerial meeting. He said ministers will meet again July 20. — AP

Long-serving Saudi foreign minister dies at 75

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Saudi Arabia's Prince Saud al-Faisal, who was the world's long estserving foreign minister, with 40 years in the post until his retirement this year, has died, a ministry spokesman said today. He was 75.

The tall, stately Prince Saud was a fixture of Mideast diplomacy, representing the oil-rich powerhouse as it wielded its influence in crisis after crisis shaking the region.

The prince, who took the ministry post in 1975, retired on April 29, citing health reasons. — AP

Pope apologizes for church's sins during colonial era

SANTA CRUZ, Bolivia — Pope Francis apologized Thursday for the sins and "offenses" committed by the Catholic Church against indigenous peoples during the colonial-era conquest of the Americas.

History's first Latin American pope "humbly" begged forgiveness during an encounter in Bolivia with indigenous groups and other activists and in the presence of Bolivia's first-ever indigenous president, Evo Morales.

Earlier in the day, as he celebrated his first public Mass in Bolivia, Francis denounced the "throwaway" culture of today's society that discards anyone who is unproductive.

In a blending of the native and new, the famously unpretentious pope changed into his vestments for the Mass in a nearby Burger King. — AP

Thailand condemned for deporting refugees to China

BANGKOK — Thailand faced a blizzard of international criticism Thursday, and its consulate in Istanbul was ransacked, after it deported 109 ethnic Uighur refugees to China despite fears that they would face persecution.

The U.N. refugee agency called Thailand's action "a flagrant violation of international law." The United States also condemned the deportations. — AP

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