World

Resuming the suspension of uranium enrichment is "out of the question," Iran's new foreign minister said and he warned of unspecified "consequences" if his government is referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program. Manouchehr Mottaki said Iran wants to resume negotiations on the program with European Union countries but "without any preconditions." He also said the government plans to seek funding for two more nuclear power plants, in addition to a plant on which Russian technicians currently are putting the finishing touches.

Israel declared an end to 38 years of rule over the Gaza Strip, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's cabinet decided not to raze 19 synagogues there. The Palestinian Authority protested the decision, accusing Israel of putting it in a position to be blamed if the synagogues are later defaced as a symbol of occupation.

Fighting ended between US and Iraqi forces and the terrorists holed up in Tal Afar, a city near the Syrian border, as many of the latter apparently escaped through a network of underground tunnels. A US military spokesman said 156 terrorists were killed in the clashes, 246 more were captured, and the coalition forces discovered a bomb factory and 18 weapons caches. He said the search for more terrorists would be extended all along the border.

With his party apparently headed for a landslide victory in Japan's general election, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi nonetheless said he will step down when his term ends next September. On the basis of exit polling, the Liberal Democratic Party seemed likely to take as many as 325 of the 480 seats in the lower house of parliament, amid a voter turnout that - at about 67 percent - was significantly higher than for the last election two years ago.

Police in Belfast, Northern Ireland, counted themselves fortunate that no one was killed after the worst violence there since July 1996. It erupted Saturday when mobs objected to a police blockade keeping the Protestant Orange Order from marching past a hard-line Catholic neighborhood. Thirty-two police and two civilians were hurt. A senior commander said the attacks were "completely organized."

Roman Catholic bishops in China will not be permitted to accept an invitation from Pope Benedict XVI to attend a church synod in Rome next month, the government said. A statement said the invitation showed "no respect" to China because the pope had been informed that old age or poor health would prevent the bishops from making the trip.

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