World

Despite his outspoken support for Japan to rebuild its military forces, new Prime Minister Shinzo Abe firmly ruled out the development of nuclear weapons. In the wake of North Korea's underground test of what it said was a nuclear weapon, Abe told parliament Tuesday that "possession of nuclear arms is not an option, at all." As recently as 2002, he maintained that the use of a tactical nuclear weapon by Japan was "not necessarily unconstitutional." Japan remains the only country attacked with nuclear arms and has long had a policy against developing or basing them on its soil. But the North Korean test led to speculation that the policy might change.

Hamas insisted that "the way is not blocked" to a settlement of the dispute with Fatah over leadership of the Palestinian government. But it rejected a new effort – by Qatar's foreign minister – to mediate the crisis Tuesday, saying it would not agree to his central demand: recognition of Israel's right to exist. The two sides left their meeting in Gaza City arguing over the possibility that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would schedule a new election that could result in a Hamas defeat. The refusal to reconize Israel has dried up Western financial aid to the Palestinians.

Equal numbers of Sunni and Shiite soldiers will staff every security checkpoint in Baghdad, Iraqi government officials said Tuesday. The move, to be implemented "soon," is aimed at ensuring that neither side can allow attacks against the other by sectarian militias or can try to cover up after an attack. It is the first step in a new four-point security plan by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to stop sectarian violence, which has spiked again with the advent of Ramadan. Against that backdrop, however, the mutilated remains of 60 more men were discovered in the capital over the 24 hours ending Tuesday morning.

It is urgent that more than 40,000 refugees from Darfur be relocated deeper inside Chad, UN officials said Tuesday after a weekend of fighting between Sudanese rebels and government forces in the volatile province. The UN operates 12 camps in Chad for the refugees, some of them just three miles from the border. When fighting spilled over into Chad, about 300 people were hurt, aid workers reported. The UN also said it has reduced the number of people in Darfur who are beyond reach of food aid because of the violence from 470,000 in July to 224,000 but that "the situation remains dramatic."

At least 52 people were killed or wounded and property damage was heavy in the explosion of a bomb Tuesday at a festival in the southern Philippines. The incident occurred in Makilala, a town in North Cotabato Province, as residents celebrated the anniversary of its founding. Police labeled the act as terrorism, although they didn't immediately blame it on either Islamist or communist guerrillas, both of whom operate in the area.

Militants seized a military base and another foreign-owned oil facility in Nigeria's delta, taking dozens of hostages and shutting down production of 12,000 barrels of crude a day. No casualties were reported, although the attackers were heavily armed. A team of negotiators, apparently from the central government, was sent to the scene to talk with the militants. Such attacks have cut the production of crude, Nigeria's No. 1 export, by more than a quarter this year.

A tentative agreement was reached between protesters and Mexico's central government to scale back months of demonstrations that have disrupted the tourist city of Oaxaca. A spokes-man for the protesters, however, said their efforts to topple unpopular Oaxaca Gov. Ulises Ruiz would continue. Thousands of leftists and striking teachers ended a 280-mile march to Mexico City Monday, hoping to pressure legislators into forcing him to quit. Ruiz has refused to step down. President Vicente Fox said he wants the dispute – which has taken five lives so far – to end before he leaves office Dec. 1.

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