World

Diplomats from key European governments were reaching out to the supporters of Hizbullah – Iran and Syria – in hopes of enlisting their help to find a solution that would stop the fighting in Lebanon. Following the lead of France's foreign minister, who held discussions earlier in the week with his Iranian counterpart, Spain's top diplomat was due in Damascus Wednesday on a similar mission. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, also was expected to discuss the situation with the Syrians Wednesday, aides said. Analysts said the Europeans were stepping in where the US won't go, both because it is Israel's chief backer and because it regards Iran and Syria as rogue nations.

The transitional government of Somalia was struggling to regroup Wednesday after still more of its members quit, bringing the number of resignations so far to 34. Most of the departures have not been full ministers, however, which analysts said leaves Western-backed Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi in no immediate danger of being toppled. Gedi still has the support of more than half of the 42 full ministers in the government, a stipulation of Somali's transitional charter. The senior leader of the rival Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) invited the defectors to join his movement, calling their departure "a great step forward."

Fighting between Tamil separatist rebels and Sri Lankan Army units spread to the key port of Trincomalee, but the former took heavy casualties, a military spokesman said Wednesday. The separatists called his claim "desperate." At least 118 combat deaths have been reported this week, and the count would be far higher if the rebels had succeeded in an attack on a troop ship carrying 850 government reinforcements. The army still has not been able to reopen a vital irrigation canal closed by the rebels because the area around it is heavily mined, local officials said. The lack of water is threatening the vital rice crop of thousands of farmers.

Three policemen were killed and rail service in southern Thailand was disrupted as the latest wave of terrorist attacks by Islamist guerrillas extended into Wednesday. In another incident, an Army officer helping to build a school in the region died when a bomb exploded near him. The attacks followed at least 97 others Tuesday that caused no deaths but injured three people. Police said they had intelligence indicating that the attacks were coming but that they were "difficult to prevent."

Weather forecasters warned of the potential for severe destruction to coastal areas of southern China from typhoon Prapiroon, which strengthened Wednesday from a tropical storm. It is projected to make landfall Thursday night. Prapiroon, named for the mythical Thai god of rain, is described as being "as strong as, if not stronger" than Bilis, which was blamed for more than 600 deaths last month as well as heavy damage from landslides and heavy flooding. Meanwhile, in the eastern Caribbean Sea, tropical storm Chris was tracking toward the Virgin Islands with the potential to strengthen into a hurricane Wednesday.

Heavy consumption of alcohol after his worst leg of the Tour de France was being offered as the explanation for winner Floyd Landis's positive drug test, The Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper said it learned from an International Cycling Union source that only one test over the duration of the race – Landis's – was positive. It showed an elevated level of testosterone, a performance-enhancing substance whose use is prohibited. Landis had performed poorly the day before that test and sought consolation by drinking, the report said. If a backup test, whose results have been promised Saturday, produces the same result, he'll be stripped of his title and banned from the sport for two years.

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