World

Iran's response to the offer of incentives for halting the enrichment of uranium was delivered to foreign ambassadors in Tehran Tuesday but was not immediately made public. Sources close to the situation said the reply contained a counteroffer: a "new formula" to resolve the dispute over the Islamic republic's nuclear program. The government has said it wants new negotiations on the matter but will not stop enriching uranium, a necessary step in weapons production. The UN Security Council, in a binding resolution, set an Aug. 31 deadline for enrichment to end or it will consider imposing sanctions against Iran. The latter has called the deadline illegal and worthless.

A preemptive attack was threatened by North Korea Tuesday after US and South Korean forces opened their annual joint military exercise. The North's KCNA news agency called the exercise "an undisguised threat ... and a war action." The drills have been held since 1975, always drawing North Korean condemnation but otherwise without incident. But this year's is taking place amid especially high tensions on the peninsula because of North Korea's July 5 missile launches and reports that it may be about to test a nuclear weapon.

More European Union troops were rushed to Congo's capital Tuesday to reinforce peacekeepers as fighting between supporters of the top two vote-getters in the July 30 presidential election extended into a third straight day. Stores in Kinshasha were closed and streets were virtually empty. UN and EU leaders appealed for an immediate cease-fire and for a meeting between incumbent Joseph Kabila and his chief rival, former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba, "for the well-being of the democratic process." The first relatively free election in 45 years failed to produce an outright winner. Kabila and Bemba are scheduled for a runoff Oct. 29.

Acting on a tip, police located and defused a powerful bomb hidden in a box of vegetables on a busy shopping street in Sri Lanka's capital Tuesday. The device, mounted on the back of a bicycle, would have caused heavy loss of life and property damage if it had exploded, authorities said. The discovery came as fighting between government forces and Tamil rebels intensified, and suspicion fell immediately on the latter for planting the bomb. The truce, which both sides agreed to in 2002, exists only on paper now, its monitors say, and they've lost count of the violations. Hundreds of people have died since late June, when combat began in earnest.

No federal intervention appeared likely in the tourist city of Oaxaca, Mexico, although a three-month strike by teachers has assumed almost insurrection proportions, reports said. President Vicente Fox's spokes-man said the national government was monitoring the situation but suggested that state Gov. Ulises Ruiz must deal with it. Conditions worsened dramatically Monday as protesters blocked traffic, set fire to buses, seized radio stations, and warned parents not to send their children to school despite the opening of the new academic year. The teachers are demanding far higher pay than Ruiz says the state can afford. The strike also has turned into a campaign to force him to quit.

One tourist died and hundreds of others were forced to spend Monday night sleeping on beaches in northern Greece as a fire of suspicious origin burned across the Halkdiki Peninsula, destroying 9,000 acres of forest and dozens of private homes and cars. Authorities said the blaze appeared to have been set deliberately.

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