Sending mixed signals Sunday, Iranian leaders said the proposal to transfer their uranium-enrichment program to Russia was "no longer on the agenda." A Foreign Ministry spokesman said that meant that his government is considering large-scale enrichment in its own facilities, but "we are going to wait for two, three days." Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry also sought to assure that Iran had no intention of using its oil exports as a weapon in the standoff with Western governments over its nuclear ambitions.Skip to next paragraph
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The leader of the Senate in Afghanistan survived an assassination attempt Sunday that he blamed on neighboring Pakistan's intelligence service. But two bystanders and two attackers were killed when a truck the latter were driving exploded as a motorcade carrying Sibghatullah Mojadidi to work passed. Mojadidi, a close ally of Afghan leader Hamid Karzai and himself a former president, said six different sources had reported to him in recent months that he was a target of Pakistan's spy agency. In Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, a Foreign Ministry spokesman rejected the accusation as "baseless." Meanwhile, four Afghanis and four Albanian employees of a water-treatment company were kidnapped Sunday, apparently by Taliban operatives.
As many as 30 more Islamist militants were killed over the weekend in the assault by government forces in a Pakistani tribal region that began before President Bush's visit to the nation 10 days ago. With the number of dead approaching 200, authorities relaxed the curfew on Miran Shah, the main town in North Waziristan, near the border with Afghanistan. But they also circulated a notice to residents, warning that they could be arrested, fined, or have their homes bulldozed if caught helping the militants. The latter countered with a threat of their own, leaving a note on a local man they'd shot to death that read: "He was an enemy of Islam and a supporter of the government. This will be the fate of anybody [else who is]."
Hamas set a deadline of Monday for other Palestinian political movements to declare whether they'll be part of the coalition government it will lead. A spokesman said he expected the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and imprisoned radical Marwan Barghouti's Independent Palestine movement would join. But leaders of President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah Party indicated they'd rather remain in the opposition. Abbas gave Hamas two more weeks to "change the platform of the government they're trying to form" - a reference to adopting his vision of a negotiated peace with Israel. But other Hamas leaders repeated their movement's commitment to the "legitimate right" of resistance against Israel and said it is not prepared to recognize the Jewish state.
With ballot-counting 50 percent complete, voters in a Japanese city were overwhelmingly rejecting plans to station more planes and personnel at a nearby US Marine base. Citing exit polls, the Kyodo news agency reported Sunday that opposition to the plan was running at 90 percent. The initiative is nonbinding, but the "no" vote will be seen as worrying to both the national government in Tokyo and to the US, analysts said. The two parties are trying to wrap up by the end of the month a sweeping reorganization of American forces in Japan. Under it, the base in question - outside Iwakuni, 600 miles west of Tokyo - would receive 7,000 marines currently stationed on Okinawa.
Organizers warned of further violence in France after riot police used force over the weekend to break up a three-day sit-in by students at Paris's Sorbonne. At least two people were hurt and about 200 protesters were evicted for "odious acts," such as defacing equipment and books belonging to the prestigious university. The protest was among several across France over the controversial new national employment law, which allows businesses to lay off people under 26 at any time without explanation, beginning next month. While the measure applies only to small companies, critics see the potential for it to spread to larger businesses.