Almost on the eve of a critical meeting to decide whether Iran's suspect nuclear program should be referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, diplomats said the US and its European allies will not press for such a move after all. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the diplomats told the Associated Press that the decision was made to give Russia more time to try to persuade the Iranians to compromise with the International Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear activities. The IAEA's board is to meet later this week on the referral matter.
A 16th and 17th outbreak of so-called bird flu were reported in China even though public health authorities said they are 60 percent finished with a campaign to vaccinate billions of farm poultry. The Agriculture Ministry ordered local governments to draw up emergency plans in case the problem worsens and to set up budgets for stockpiling vaccines and disinfectant. Meanwhile, Romanian officials confirmed that four new cases had been found in a Danube River farming town.
DNA tests were being conducted on the remains of terrorists killed by US and Iraqi forces in Mosul, Iraq, over the weekend to determine whether Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was one of them. The Bush administration said Monday that it is "highly unlikely" that the Al Qaeda leader died in the clash, but Iraq's foreign minister - on a visit to Moscow - suggested that he is believed to have been killed. In neighboring Jordan, state TV broke into regular programming with a report suggesting that government officials there also believe that.
In an unannounced visit, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan hurried to the Kurdish region of southeastern Turkey, pledging that his government would investigate alleged summary executions by undercover police. A Nov. 9 bombing there that appeared to target a convicted Kurdish guerrilla killed one person and has triggered angry protests that have resulted in four more deaths. Prosecutors have charged three police sergeants and a Kurdish informant in the bombing. Summary executions by security forces were common in the early 1990s, when the Kurdish separatist movement was at a peak. The European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join, recently reported that it is still finding evidence of human rights abuses against ethnic minorities there.
Three more people, all Buddhists, were found dead after suspected Islamist separatists attacked houses in volatile southern Thailand Sunday night. Two other people were hurt and a house and truck were destroyed by fire. Police said they found a cache of bullets that they speculate were to be used in future attacks. Earlier Sunday, a small child and 11 other people were hurt when terrorists exploded two bombs at a market in an adjoining province. The latest violence raised the number of casualties in the Muslim-dominated region to more than 1,100 over the past two years.
With a special UN mediator about to arrive, Serbia's leader warned Monday that negotiations on the political future of Kosovo Province must arrive at a solution that does not include independence. Vojislav Kostunica said although Kosovo is dominated by ethnic Albanians it "is part of Serbia ... of its history, its present, and future." About 100,000 Serbs still live in Kosovo despite "a deliberate, planned, and organized policy of ethnic cleansing," he said, and if Albanians were to win autonomy, there would have to be autonomy for the Serbs too. The UN envoy, Martti Ahtisaari of Finland, brokered a 1999 deal in which Serb forces agreed to end a crackdown on Albanians in exchange for no longer being targeted in NATO bombings.