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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Ross Atkin / June 13, 2005



Iraq's government confirmed that it has been approached by "resistance" groups seeking peace terms and a role in national politics. A spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said "the door is open" to those "who have not killed any Iraqis and are willing to give up violence." Meanwhile, French journalist Forence Aubenas and her Iraqi driver/guide were freed unharmed by their captors Saturday five months after being kidnapped. Eleven other foreigners, three of them Americans, still are believed to be hostages in Iraq.

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At least eight people were killed and 89 others were hurt in explosions targeting government buildings in southwestern Iran - the worst such violence there in more than a decade. Authorities blamed the attacks on saboteurs attempting to undermine Friday's presidential election. The scene of the blasts, Ahvaz, in oil-rich Khuzestan Province, also experienced trouble in April amid rumors of a government plan to dilute its ethnic Arab population by moving in Persians.

Chechen separatists were blamed for a bomb explosion that derailed a passenger train en route to Moscow on the Day of Russia, one of the nation's most imporant holidays. At least 15 people were hurt in the blast, and authorities credited the fact that the train had yet to reach cruising speed at the time of the explosion with saving lives. Chechen rebels have carried out numerous such attacks on national holidays.

For the first time in weeks, conditions appeared normal again in Bolivia's capital as protesters ended the marches and roadblocks that toppled President Carlos Mesa. Mesa was succeeded late last week by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Eduardo Rodriguez, who said he's willing to discuss with the protesters their demands for increased Indian rights and a greater share of the nation's natural gas wealth. He also pledged to schedule a national election in December.

A US-educated newspaper columnist and teacher of political science was named minister of planning in Kuwait, becoming the first female to win a cabinet post in the oil-rich emirate. Massouma al-Mubarak's appointment became possible after parliament - over the objections of Muslim fundamentalists - last month approved a law allowing women to vote and campaign for public office.

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