A testy Prime Minister Shinzo Abe repeated his assertion that Japan does not need nuclear weapons on its soil to counter a threat by North Korea. Abe was reacting to testimony before parliament by new Foreign Minister Taro Aso, who said, "I think it's important to discuss the issue." But, with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice opening a tour of Asia to consult with US allies on the North Korean threat, Abe told reporters, "That debate is finished." Since being attacked with nuclear weapons in World War II, Japan has had a firm policy against them. Abe first declared his opposition in an address to parliament last week.
Iraq's government rescheduled its much-anticipated conference on national reconciliation for Nov. 4. The talks, whose goals are to stop the spiral of sectarian violence and to bridge the deep political divide among Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, were to have begun Friday but were postponed for "emergency reasons." The conference is part of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's 24-point plan to unify Iraq.
Posing as fishermen, Tamil rebels infiltrated a Navy base on Sri Lanka's southern coast Wednesday, triggering explosives that killed themselves and at least one sailor. Fourteen other naval personnel were hurt or reported missing. The bold attack was the second on sailors this week and apparently the first in an area of the nation that is especially popular with tourists. A curfew was imposed after angry residents retaliated by looting Tamil-owned shops. A government spokesman accused the rebels of trying to provoke a backlash that would win them international sympathy as peace talks approach late next week.
A 23rd ballot is scheduled for Thursday in the UN General Assembly to choose between Venezuela and Guatemala for a seat on the Security Council. But, "it looks like things are frozen," one diplomat said. No vote was held Wednesday to allow discussions on a way out of the standoff, since neither candidate has reached the two-thirds majority needed to win. Guatemala currently leads, 120 to 77. Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has accused the US of "blackmail" to defeat his nation's bid. In a speech Tuesday night, he said, "Venezuela does not surrender."
More than 100 villagers have been killed and 3,000 others have fled for their safety in attacks inside Chad by Janjaweed militiamen from neighboring Sudan over the past two weeks, local administrators and UN spokesmen said Wednesday. They said the UN is seeking sanctuaries for the villagers, since the rainy season is ending. That will give the Janjaweed firmer ground on which to attack from vehicles rather than from horseback. The attacks are an extension of the violence in Sudan's Darfur region, which has killed or driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
The new prime minister of Thailand said he plans to deal with the Muslim separatist campaign in three southern provinces "by way of talking." Surayud Chulanont's approach would be a radical change from the use of force that was the policy of his ousted predecessor, Thaksin Shinawatra. Surayud said he'd seek meetings with Islamist leaders as well as "the kids in schools." More than 1,700 people have been killed since the campaign began in January 2004, among them seven on Tuesday and another Wednesday in a separatist attack on an Army outpost.
Police used rubber bullets and tear gas to break up a brawl Tuesday between rival factions of Argentina's Peronist movement that disrupted lavish ceremonies for the reburial of its founder. Dozens of people were hurt, and the violence caused President Nestor Kirchner to cancel his appearance at the event. Three-term President Juan Peron died in 1974, but his legacy remains powerful, and supporters said his remains deserved a more "dignified" final resting place than a common Buenos Aires cemetery.