Senior Iranians said they found "some positive steps" in the long-awaited offer of incentives by Western governments to halt their nuclear program. But in receiving it from European Union envoy Javier Solana Tuesday in Tehran, the Iranians also said it contained "some ambiguities which should be removed." They did not elaborate. According to reports, Solana did not present the other terms of the proposal - measures that would seek to punish Iran if it does not stop enriching uranium.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas pulled back from his ultimatum that Hamas agree to recognize Israel by noon Tuesday, giving the new government a 48-hour extension. But a spokesman said Abbas stands by his refusal to modify the proposal. If Hamas still has not agreed, he said, Abbas will announce by week's end the date of a referendum on a Palestinian state standing side-by-side with Israel. Hamas calls the proposed referendum illegal. But a spokesman told the BBC that his organization "says 'yes' to the two-state solution," provided Israel retreats to within its 1967 borders. Israeli leaders reject those terms.
Chanting, "We don't want Islamic courts; we want peace," hundreds of supporters of the largest clan in Somalia's capital protested the takeover of the city by Muslim militiamen. Members of the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which claimed Monday that Mogadishu was under its control, watched the demonstration but didn't try to stop it. Analysts said the protest showed the necessity of negotiating with clan elders over the terms of control. But ICU fighters already were reported pushing north to seize more territory. There also were concerns that they might move on Baidoa, 155 miles south of Mogadishu, where the fledgling Somali government is based, even though Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi called the takeover of Mogadishu "an excellent step forward."
The violence threatening the fragile four-year-old truce in Sri Lanka reached the capital area again Tuesday, focusing suspicion on Tamil separatist rebels. Antipersonnel mines exploded outside a military base near Colombo, wounding the driver and conductor of a civilian bus but missing a naval convoy that was the apparent target. Another blast 130 miles north of Colombo killed two policemen and injured two more. (In April, a female terrorist exploded a bomb inside Army headquarters near the capital, killing eight people and critically wounding the commanding general.) The latest attacks came two days before rebel and government representatives are due to meet in Norway to review the cease-fire.
Unpopular Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri of East Timor was under new pressure to resign Tuesday as thousands of protesters circled government buildings in Dili, the capital, in trucks and on motorbikes, honking horns and demanding that he transfer his powers to President Xanana Gusmao. They called for a transitional government that would organize an election for a new parliament. Using a bullhorn, Gusmao welcomed the demonstrators but asked them to return home without further violence "because there are many problems ... to be solved."
Sympathetic bureaucrats left their offices to join the three-week-old campaign for reform of Chile's educational system even though the government has agreed to most of the protesters' demands. Police arrested 266 more people Monday in Santiago, where high-school and college students and union members tried to march to the city center and barricade a street with burning tires. Finance Minister Andres Velasco said the $200 million worth of concessions offered to the students last week were "definitive" and that no more would be forthcoming. The students say they aren't sufficient and now demand a voice in drafting a reform plan.