World

Following through on their vow, Iran's leaders announced they were ending all cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog and will resume the enrichment of uranium immediately. The announcement followed Saturday's referral of Iran to the Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency for the possible imposition of diplomatic or economic sanctions. The Foreign Ministry also announced a meeting with Russian officials in Moscow Feb. 16 on the latter's proposal to enrich the uranium and turn it over to Iran. Meanwhile, parliament in Tehran said it will consider legislation barring the importation from the US of any "unnecessary" products because the Bush administration led the campaign for the referral.

Israel's leaders reconsidered their decision not to transfer overdue tax revenue to the Palestinian Authority (PA), saying the $45 million would be sent only because Hamas is not yet part of the government. Once it assumes power - probably later this month - the payments will stop, a cabinet source said. The PA depends on the money to pay the 137,000 people it employs. As the change of heart was announced, an internal PA audit revealed that at least $700 million in funds has been stolen from the treasury or squandered by corrupt officials, some of whom have fled overseas.

Among the 23 men who escaped from a prison in Yemen were 13 members of Al Qaeda - one of them a leading plotter of the 2000 terrorist attack on the USS Cole, Interpol said Sunday. The international police agency identified the latter as Jamal Ahmed Badawi and issued an "urgent global security alert" for the escapees, whom it called "dangerous." It said "coconspirators outside" had helped to dig a tunnel through which the terrorists made their getaway. The escape came as Yemeni authorities were preparing for the trial of another Al-Qaeda suspect in the Cole bombing and 14 other defendants. Yemen is the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden.

Tamil separatist rebels backed out of their commitment to take part in negotiations with the government of Sri Lanka later this month, citing the abductions of 10 humanitarian aid staffers. The talks on how better to implement the terms of their 2002 cease-fire were to have begun in Geneva next week. Three of 10 people reported to have been seized by government-backed paramilitaries last week have been freed, but there has been no word on the others. The government has ordered an investigation into the matter but to date has refused a rebel demand that the paramilitary groups be disarmed.

Despite the resignations of two cabinet ministers and a massive antigovernment protest over the weekend, the beleaguered leader of Thailand probably will survive politically, analysts said. A crowd estimated at 100,000 people at its peak massed in Bangkok to demand Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra's resignation for alleged corruption, treason, and shady business dealings. The demonstration, believed to be the largest in Thailand in 14 years, began Saturday and did not break up until Sunday morning. During it, Thaksin's communications minister quit. On Friday, his minister of culture stepped down, citing a need to "uphold good governance."

Those responsible for a stampede in which at least 74 people were crushed to death in the Philippines will be prosecuted and punished for negligence, President Gloria Arroyo vowed. More than 500 others were hurt Saturday at a suburban Manila sports arena where a popular TV game show was to be broadcast. Reports said as many as 30,000 - far more than the arena can hold - had been waiting to be admitted to the first-anniversary broadcast of the program and surged forward against a gate that was not yet open. The show promised large cash prizes and a free house, but only the first 300 admitted were to be eligible for them.

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