World

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad expects to attend a UN Security Council meeting for the purpose of defending the Islamic republic's disputed nuclear program, state-run TV said Sunday. It did not say when he would fly to New York for the meeting or whether he'd been invited. The Council's five permanent members, plus Germany, are considering new sanctions for Iran, in addition to those imposed last December, because of its continued refusal to roll back the program.

Shiites returning from a weekend of religious ceremonies in Karbala, Iraq, were targeted by terrorist bombers Sunday, adding at least 32 more dead to the spiraling casualty count. The new attacks came despite the arrest Friday of a "senior leader" of Al Qaeda and the "business-like" meeting Saturday of Iraqi, US, Iranian, and Syrian representatives on bringing peace to the war-torn country. All four agreed that it is vital to stop Sunni-Shiite violence, reports said. Above, US Army airborne troops guard a street corner in Baghdad's Sadr City district.

A year of unproductive negotiations on the future of Kosovo ended Saturday, and a decision on the fate of the province now goes to the UN Security Council. Serbian President Boris Tadic said parting with the majority-Albanian province would be "unbearable." But Albanian negotiators wound up the talks in Vienna by contending that independence was, for them, the only acceptable outcome. It is unclear how soon the Security Council will vote on the matter. Serbia's ally, Russia, can choose to veto any decision that the Belgrade government opposes.

A Friday deadline was set by the Taliban for Italy's government to announce when it will pull its 1,900 troops from Afghanistan or "we will slaughter" a reporter for the La Repubblica newspaper. The Taliban also demanded the freeing of three of its spokesmen from Afghan custody. Reporter Daniele Mastrogiacomo is accused of spying for NATO.

A leading Tamil member of Parliament in Sri Lanka pleaded for international help as the Red Cross put the number of noncombatants fleeing a government offensive at more than 105,000. The legislator accused the government of ignoring the humanitarian needs of the refugees in the northeast, where the armed forces have been attacking rebel targets since December. The military denied that civilians were being targeted. A spokesman said they want "to get out of there" because the rebels use them as human shields.

A return to civilian rule and multiparty democracy were at stake Sunday as voters in Mauritania went to the polls for the first time since the Army seized power 19 months ago. In scheduling the election, coup leaders barred themselves from seeking the presidency and pledged to respect the voters' choice. If that vow is kept, it would be the first peaceful transfer of power since the sprawling African nation achieved independence from France in 1960. Analysts said a runoff was likely in two weeks since no clear favorite had emerged from among the 19 candidates. Below, a voter drops her ballot into a collection box.

An estimated 340,000 people jammed Spain's capital Saturday to demand that Prime Minister José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero resign for being too lenient with the Basque separatist group ETA. Speakers accused him of insulting the memories of ETA victims and their survivors by seeking peace talks with the group. The protest was the third of its type in just over a month. Conservatives are especially angry at Zapatero for switching an ETA militant convicted of murder from prison to house arrest. The latter is said to be near death from a hunger strike.

At least 22 more men were killed and seven others were missing Sunday after a coal mine in northwestern China flooded. The accident was the second to be reported in less than a week. The official Xinhua news agency said the mine in question ranks as one of the nation's 45 most dangerous.

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