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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / May 17, 2006



Iran will reject any offer of incentives to stop enrichment of uranium, its foreign minister said Tuesday. He spoke as British, French, and German diplomats were considering what an informed source said was an offer of a light-water reactor. Reactors of that type are considered less likely than heavy-water reactors to be used for weapons purposes because the uranium they use is enriched only to low levels. Meanwhile, China's and Russia's top diplomats said their governments would not vote to use force against Iran should that question come before the UN Security Council.

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The financial problems of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority worsened Tuesday despite President Mahmoud Abbas's warning of an "explosion of anger" unless Western aid donors resumed their help. Abbas, who'd just addressed the European Parliament, predicted "a chaotic situation [in the West Bank and Gaza Strip] of which we cannot forsee the results" if donors don't move quickly. But although the largest donor, the European Union, said it hoped a new process could be in place by next month, there was no sign that the US would take part. Meanwhile, the only remaining Israeli bank authorized to handle transactions affecting Palestinians said it will end such dealings by November.

At least 13 prison inmates were found dead in Brazil's largest state and three suspected street gang members were shot to death by police, although the crime spree there appeared to be winding down. Officially, 81 people have been killed and 79 others wounded in the violence that has shaken São Paulo and the surrounding area since Friday. Authorities would not confirm news accounts that the number of dead had risen to 96 - 39 of them police or prison guards. But all 70 of the prison takeovers were reported over, and the hundreds of guards and visitors who had been taken hostage were released. Public transportation was operating again Tuesday under police escort after 65 buses were set on fire by gang members Monday.

A guilty verdict appeared all but certain for the only surviving member of the terrorist group that seized a public school in Beslan, Russia, two years ago, resulting in the deaths of 331 people. In a court in Vladikav-kaz, a judge began the public reading of his summary of Nurpashi Kulayev's trial Tuesday. The jurist said he'd "established the participation of the defendant in murder, attempted murder ... taking hostages [and] illegally transporting weapons." Prosecutors have demanded the death penalty for Kulayev. He has insisted he was forced to take part in the raid by fellow Chechens.

Rebel groups in Darfur that so far have not agreed to the new peace accord with Sudan's government were given two more weeks to do so by the African Union, which mediated the deal. Otherwise, it said, they'd be referred to the UN Security Council for the imposition of sanctions. Both groups are smaller than the Sudanese Liberation Movement, which has signed the agreement. But the leader of one group rejected the threat and called for AU to join in pressuring Sudan's government to make more concessions before he'd agree to sign.

Members of the Senate hugged each other in Nigeria Tuesday after rejecting legislation that could have allowed President Olusegun Obasanjo to seek reelection next year. In a vote that took analysts by surprise, the lawmakers defeated a bill to amend the Constitution, which limits the chief executive to two terms. The measure cannot be brought before the Senate again before Obasanjo's term expires.

As expected, the executive commission of the EU declared that Romania and Bulgaria are "on track" to join the bloc Jan. 1. But it said Bulgaria must make faster progress in campaigns against corruption and organized crime and that Romania must do the same in the areas of food safety and farming subsidies. The commission said it would evaluate the situation for the final time in the fall.

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