World

Led by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadnejad, 57 Muslim nations demanded Thursday that Israel halt military operations in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. At a meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) in Malaysia, they also said the Jewish state must pay compensation for damage in both areas caused by its attacks. Ahmadinejad said, "The real cure for the conflict is the elimination of the Zionist regime," which has "no basis for its existence." Other delegates to the OIC, the world's largest Muslim bloc, proposed that it commit troops to a UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon. Israel hasn't said whether it would accept Muslims as part of such a force.

New missile bases are under construction along North Korea's east coast, according to a report by a foreign affairs and security institute in rival South Korea. The report suggests that the bases will allow medium- and long-range missiles to be launched against targets in Japan, specifically US military installations there. To forestall possible attacks from outside, the North also has been building underground missile sites in a mountainous region near its border with China, the report adds. Among other points, it says North Korea worked closely with Iran and perhaps China in the development of its longest-range Taepodong 2 missile, which could be deployed at all of the new bases. The reclusive communist regime drew international condemnation by test- firing seven missiles in the direction of Japan July 5.

Leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador apologized for the disruption in Mexico's capital caused by thousands of his followers. But he said it was a small price to pay for "making democracy count in our country." The supporters, who've camped out in Mexico City's central square and main boulevard, were in their fourth day of a protest to demand a new recount of votes from the July 2 election, which López Obrador lost by a margin of less than 1 percent. He said no other acts of civil disobedience were planned until Mexico's elections court rules on the recount demand. President Vicente Fox, who had stayed out of the dispute, urged city authorities to dismantle the tent camps, saying they have choked off commerce and tourism.

Artillery shells that landed off-target killed 21 people and wounded dozens of others in a mostly Muslim town in eastern Sri Lanka as fighting intensified between Tamil separatist rebels and government forces. A military spokesman blamed the errant shells, which struck three schools in Muttur, on the Tamils. Phone calls to rebel headquarters seeking comment were not answered. The government said it was prepared for negotiations to resolve the dispute over an irrigation canal system that has brought on the latest clashes.

Despite losses of $1.4 million a day, four of the 10 nuclear reactors in Sweden were idle, and the nation's regulatory board was meeting in emergency session to consider its next move. Two reactors at Oskarshamn, 150 miles south of Stockholm, were shut down Wednesday night after its operator said their safety "could not be guaranteed." Reactors at another plant malfunctioned last week in an incident described as "serious." If the shutdown extends into next winter, it will "cause big problems," energy analysts said.

Typhoon Prapiroon lashed southern China Thursday bringing new misery to an area battered last month by tropical storm Bilis. The Xinhua news agency said 65,000 residents had been evacuated. At Hong Kong, 370 miles to the northeast, hundreds of commercial flights were canceled or redirected to other destinations. Prapiroon is the eighth named storm of a typhoon season that began unusually early and so far is blamed for more than 1,400 deaths in China alone.

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