World

In a partial answer to the package of incentives offered to Iran to stop enriching uranium, its supreme leader rejected negotiations with the US. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday that nothing would be gained by holding such talks "and we do not need them." The proposed negotiations were seen as a major concession by the US because the two nations do not have diplomatic relations and President Bush has called Iran part of "an axis of evil." Khamenei said he believed the US and other Western powers would use such negotiations to pressure Iran to abandon nuclear research. Iran has promised its response to the incentive package by Aug. 22.

Despite another day of violence in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki won the support of an important Sunni Arab group for his national reconciliation plan. Prominent cleric Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samaraie said the Sunni Endowment, the state agency responsible for mosques and shrines, "bless[es] this initiative." However, he called for Maliki to disband the armed militias "that consider themselves above the law." The move came a day after some members of parliament reported that seven Sunni resistance groups, made up mostly of ex-members of Saddam Hussein's regime, had offered a conditional truce and that Maliki was considering a meeting with them, at least through intermediaries.

At least five people died Tuesday and six others were wounded when Islamist militiamen who control Somalia's capital broke an agreement not to resume hostilities and attacked a checkpoint set up by one of the secular clans that had opposed them. The fighting was the first since the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) signed the deal last week. Meanwhile, amid signs that the ICU may try to turn Somalia into a Taliban-style state, the Bush administration said it would deal with others in the regime there but not with newly appointed legislative council chief Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, who is on a US list of most-wanted terrorists.

As police kept order in the streets outside, legislators on Taiwan fell 29 votes short of passing a motion to recall President Chen Shui-bian. The controversial leader then called on his opponents to end the politics of confrontation and turn their attention to measures that would help Taiwanese financially. He also offered to "push for ... cross-Strait peace talks," a reference to reconciliation with mainland China, which he's accused of alienating through efforts to promote Taiwan's independence. The motion would have authorized a referendum on ousting Chen because of financial scandals involving members of his family. Thousands of people on both sides of the issue massed outside parliament, but no violence was reported.

Suspicion fell on Muslim separatists in southern Thailand for ambushing a truck that was carrying military personnel to a school for guard duty. Seven men were killed, four of them execution-style, the BBC reported. The truck was forced to stop when a bomb planted beside the road it was traveling on exploded, leaving a deep crater. More than 1,300 people have been killed since separatist violence flared in the region two years ago, and Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said the military had intelligence showing still more "coordinated attacks" were planned for Wednesday.

A special blue-ribbon commission of Argentines will begin work Thursday on developing a new claim to sovereignty over the Falkland Islands, The Times (London) reported. The move, at the behest of President Nestor Kirchner, comes on the heels of an announcement by the British government of gala celebrations next June to mark the 25th anniversary of victory over Argentina, which invaded the disputed islands off its shores. More than 1,000 people died in the three months of fighting in 1982. Kirchner, who is a candidate for reelection next year, has warned he'll abandon the deal agreed to by former President Carlos Menem that trades the sovereignty claim for oil exploration, fishing, and transportation licenses in the region, The Times said. Argentina accuses Britain of bad faith in renegotiating the fishing licenses.

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