Amid intensifying violence in Iraq, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was preparing to leave for Washington and meetings with President Bush and other US leaders. He rejected a demand by his own political bloc that he cancel the trip to protest American support for Israel in the latter's retaliation against Hizbullah terrorism. Bush and the prime minister are to discuss Iraqi security Tuesday, and sources said al-Maliki would be pressured to do more to calm sectarian tensions. Despite a show of sectarian solidarity over the weekend by Iraqi leaders, 64 more people were killed Sunday in bombings in the Shiite Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad and in the northern city of Kirkuk.
Saddam Hussein was being force-fed in a Baghdad hospital Sunday, with doctors saying his health "is unstable because of [his] hunger strike." The chief prosecutor in his trial on charges of crimes against humanity said he was told Hussein "will not be able to attend" Monday's session. The ex-Iraqi dictator and three of seven codefendants have been refusing food since July 7 to protest the procedures employed by the Iraqi High Tribunal and security precautions for their defense lawyers. The lawyers also said they'll boycott Monday's session because "our legal demands [for] the minimum for a fair trial have been refused." But in a conflicting report, a US military spokesman in Baghdad said Hussein and his fellow defendants "are in a condition where they can return to court" Monday.
Iran issued a new appeal for negotiations over its nuclear program, with a published report saying Switzerland had been asked to organize an international conference on the issue. The Swiss NZZ am Sonntag newspaper said Iranian officials also asked that such talks be extended beyond the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to such other governments as Japan, Spain, and possibly India and Pakistan. Adopting a softer tone than other senior Iranians have used in recent months, a Foreign Ministry spokesman appeared to suggest that proposals to suspend the enrichment of uranium still could be considered, saying: Everything should be a result of negotiations."
With as many as 25,000 evacuees from Lebanon already overcrowding its facilities – and thousands more expected Sunday alone – the government of Cyprus pleaded for help in coping with the burden. Foreign Minister George Lillikas appealed to European countries for financial assistance, saying, "We're doing our best [but] we are expecting that number to triple." The influx, at the height of the summer vacation season, has strained tourist facilities, with long lines of people waiting at the international airport for flights to their home countries. Asked whether Cyprus might consider turning away evacuees, Lillikas said, "It depends on the capacity we have."
Hundreds of heavily armed Ethiopian troops were reported in a second town in Somalia Sunday, and their government vowed to "crush" the Islamist militia that itself declared a holy war last week. Ethiopians also were said to be in Baidoa, the home of Somalia's weak transitional government, to protect it from the Islamists. Peace talks between the two sides never got off the ground Saturday. The Islamists walked out over the Ethiopian incursion, and the transitional government demanded international guarantees that any deal reached in the talks would be respected.
Residents of Indonesia's Sula-wesi island were returning to their homes Sunday after a strong new undersea earthquake caused alarm of another tsunami in the region. But two hours later, no tidal wave had occurred, and authorities said, "We are sending a message [to those who fled in panic] because the situation is now safe." Meanwhile, the number of people who died in last week's tsunami on Java island rose to 668, authorities there said, with more than 280 others still considered missing and 74,000 "displaced," because their homes were destroyed or because they now fear living next to the sea.