World

A war of words between the Bush administration and Iran intensified, with the Tehran government calling the accusation that it's helping US enemies "hallucinations." A senior official challenged the US to provide proof that Iran has aided Al Qaeda and Taliban members in escaping from neighboring Afghanistan and is backing breakaway factions there. In a rare show of unity, the angry reaction was coming from both hard-line conservatives and the reformers with whom they normally feud. The situation, analysts said, has dissipated the goodwill generated by Iran's swift condemnation of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

From now on, only pesos will underpin the Argentine economy, the government decreed as part of the latest plan to ease the nation's financial crisis. It declared a two-day freeze on most financial transactions and ordered banks to convert all their holdings in dollars to the devalued peso. Moves also were under way in Congress to fire the Supreme Court justices who ruled Friday that limits on withdrawing cash from personal savings accounts are unconstitutional.

Investigators "are doing their level best" to effect the safe rescue of US journalist Daniel Pearl, Pakistan's Interior Minister said. Hopes for The Wall Street Journal reporter were dashed Sunday when TV networks said he had been found dead, only to withdraw their accounts later. Pearl has not been seen since Jan. 23, and his kidnapers have not responded to growing appeals for his release.

Search-and-rescue efforts were called off in favor of providing shelter to the survivors of Sunday's powerful earthquake in central Turkey. It caused at least 44 deaths, 300-plus injuries, and damage to more than 600 buildings (one of them above). The government, accused of reacting too slowly to previous natural disasters, was sending more than 20,000 blankets, 7,000 tents, and 3,000 gas heaters to those left homeless in subfreezing temperatures.

Army troops were filling the vacuum left by thousands of fleeing residents of Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, after three days of ethnic fighting that killed at least 55 people. More than 200 others were reported hurt, and the clashes were reported to be resuming early Monday after an overnight lull. A commander said the soldiers would remain "until peace returns."

What was to have been the final test launch of Japan's biggest rocket appeared to be a failure after controllers lost contact with one of its two satellites. The probe failed to separate from Stage 2 of its booster. The launch cost upward of $70 million and was being called another blot on Japan's struggling space program. But officials pledged 11 more tests over the next three years.

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