Iran's leaders mocked diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany by offering them concessions on trade and other "economic incentives" in return for recognition of the right to produce nuclear fuel. The Europeans are said to be considering such options as trade considerations and a light-water reactor to try to persuade Iran to halt its nuclear program. But in a nationally televised speech Wed-nesday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad asked rhetorically: "Do you think you're dealing with a 4-year-old to whom you can give some chocolates and get gold from him?" Iran's ambassador to Japan, meanwhile, warned the government in Tokyo not to join in any sanctions over the nuclear issue, hinting that there would be "an action against Japan" if it did.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
New pressure was heaped on Hamas Wednesday to recognize Israel. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the militant group elected to head his government in January "can't survive" if it continues to deny the Jewish state's right to exist. Palestinians, he said, "will be deprived of everything because of Hamas's policies." Meanwhile, Palestinian government employees who haven't been paid because of the cutoff of international aid over Hamas's stance on Israel rallied in Ramallah in the West Bank to demand their money. And doctors warned that the Palestinian healthcare system was on the verge of collapse due to the withholding of aid.
A self-styled "soldier of Allah" was being condemned by Turkey's leaders for a shooting spree in an Ankara courtroom that killed a senior judge and wounded four others Wednesday. The attack was carried out by a lawyer who, reports said, later told interrogators he wanted to punish the judges for ruling in February that a female school teacher couldn't be promoted because she wore a Muslim head scarf. Their pictures had been printed in an Islamic newspaper. More than 90 percent of Turks are Muslim, but the nation's secular institutions - especially the courts and the military - seek to limit Islamic influence as an obstacle to Western-style modernization.
Suspicion fell on Chechen extremists for a car-bomb explosion that killed a senior police official and six other people Wednesday in southern Russia. A manhunt for the attackers was under way in the restive province of Ingushetia for those behind the attack. The target, a deputy interior minister, was en route to work in an armored vehicle when the blast occurred. He had survived three previous attempts on his life. Ingushetia borders Chechnya and has been the scene of repeated attacks against Russian officials by Islamist separatists. Also nearby is the city of Beslan, where 331 people died when terrorists seized a public school in 2004. The only surviving attacker is awaiting a court's verdict and sentencing in that case.
More than 600,000 people were evacuated from coastal southern China as the most powerful typhoon on record for this time of year approached. The storm, named Chanchu, was expected to make landfall in Guangdong Province with wind speeds approaching 110 m.p.h. It spared neighboring Hong Kong but was blamed for at least 37 deaths as it crossed the Philippines last weekend.
Army troops were guarding Occidental Petroleum assets in Ecuador after the US company's operating contract was seized and turned over to state-owned Petroecuador. The Bush administration retaliated by canceling negotiations on a free-trade agreement, over the protests of Ecuadorean officials. The government in Quito said its move did not mean that it is nationalizing the energy sector, as Bolivia did earlier this month and as Venezuela's president has said he might do. They accuse Occidental of violating its contract by selling off some assets without governmental approval.