World

The first Nigerian troops arrived at the airport in Monrovia, Liberia, as part of a regional peacekeeping force to end 14 years of civil unrest. The first contingent was met by jubilant crowds. At a news conference in Rome, meanwhile, the leader of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), a main rebel faction, promised to withdraw forces from the capital's port once peacekeepers take up positions and to work with them to ensure a peaceful transition once President Charles Taylor relinquishes power. Taylor has pledged to step down Aug. 11, but it wasn't clear if he would leave the country.

Despite strong denials, Iran appears to have an advanced nuclear weapons program and may be able to produce a bomb by 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported. The paper said a three-month investigation had uncovered strong evidence, such as a confidential report by the French government, that Tehran is close to having weapons-grade material and has used front companies and hidden labs to disguise its weapons program for the past decade. Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes.

Fugitive Sen. Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan was "definitely" a leader in the mutiny by hundreds of Philippines Army soldiers last week, Interior Secretary Jose Lina said, alleging that Honasan hoped "to grab political power." The opposition senator is the highest-profile official implicated to date in the July 27 uprising. Police also charged four senior military officers and two civilians. Over the weekend, President Gloria Arroyo said a state of emergency would remain in effect due to "residual threats" from the incident.

A scandal-hit top executive in South Korea's Hyundai conglomerate died in what police said was an apparent suicide. Chung Mong-hun, who headed a subsidiary that runs joint ventures with North Korea, was on trial for allegedly funneling $100 million to the communist regime to help ex-President Kim Dae-jung's government arrange a landmark 2000 summit.

Portugal's prime minister declared a national disaster due to forest fires that killed nine people in the past week. More than 2,000 firefighters are battling 72 blazes in the country, one-third of which is covered by forests. Another 12 deaths in Spain and Germany are blamed on a heat wave stretching from the Iberian Peninsula to Russia, with record temperatures recorded in Britain and France.

Blazes forced more than 11,000 people to evacuate parts of the western Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Alberta. The former's premier described the fire season as the worst in 50 years.

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