Ecuador: Galapagos volcano

QUITO — A volcano on the largest of the Galapagos Islands has begun erupting and authorities are evaluating possible dangers to the island's famed plant and animal life, officials said Friday.

Park official Oscar Carvajal told Radio Quito that as many as four lava flows "have consumed a lot of vegetation" but do not pose a threat to the famed Galapagos tortoises. Neither was the eruption endangering people on the island, park official Vinicio Pauta said.

Israel: Mideast leaders to meet

JERUSALEM — Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will meet the Palestinian president before flying to Washington for talks with President Bush next week, a top Palestinian official confirmed Friday.

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Monday's talks would include discussion of a permanent peace agreement and Egyptian attempts to broker a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Jordan: Energy deal signed

AMMAN — Jordan and France signed an agreement on Friday to help the Arab kingdom develop its nuclear energy program.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Jordanian counterpart, Salaheddine al-Bashir, announced the deal in Amman. France will train Jordanian nuclear scientists and help in uranium extraction, according to the agreement. Uranium is abundant in the desert country.

Spain: Sky-diving plane crashes

MADRID — Nine sky-divers leapt from a plane in eastern Spain on Friday when the aircraft lost a wing and plunged to earth, killing the pilot and one passenger, according to the country's Interior Ministry.

The News network Cadena Ser, citing local witnesses, reported that four of the parachutists were injured, two of them seriously.

United Nations: Piracy policy

A draft U.N. resolution finalized on Friday would allow foreign ships to enter Somali waters to capture and prevent acts of piracy and armed robbery.

Piracy is rampant along Somalia's 1,880-mile coast, which is the longest in Africa and near key shipping routes connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

Vatican City: No female priests

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican insisted Friday that it is properly following Christian tradition by excluding females from the priesthood as it issued a new warning that women taking part in ordinations will be excommunicated.

The move dashed the hopes both of women seeking to be priests and of Catholics who see that as an option for a church struggling to recruit men. A top Vatican official said the church acted after what it described as "so-called ordinations" held in various parts of the world.

Venezuela: Chavez keeps aide

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is keeping his information minister in his post despite an offer by the top aide to resign.

Information Minister Andres Izarra had offered to step down after deciding to make private TV channels pay to broadcast the president's speeches — without consulting Chavez. The state television channel has since announced it will toss out the plan to charge private channels about $200,000 an hour for the right to broadcast Chavez's speeches.