World

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's bid to stay in office was weakened Wednesday when one of his most crucial allies called for him to resign. Popular Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, a member of Olmert's own Kadina Party and a prospective successor to head the government, said she told him resignation "would be the right thing to do" because of criticism of his handling of last summer's war with Hizbullah. Livni said, however, that she'd remain in the government.

US officials in Iraq again cautioned against accepting reports that Al Qaeda chief Abu Ayub al-Masri is dead, saying terrorism there could be expected to continue regardless. But an Anbar Province police spokesman said security forces know where Masri's remains are, although they can't be retrieved because the area is still under terrorist control.

North Korea's foot-dragging in retiring its nuclear weapons program may require the imposition of further sanctions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Wednesday. The North is almost three weeks beyond the deadline for shutting down its Yongbyon reactor in return for economic aid and political concessions. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the US and Japan are willing to allow North Korea more time but that patience in the matter isn't "endless."

An angry Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted Turkey's highest court for "a bullet fired at democracy" after it invalidated the first vote for president. But in a concession to opponents, his Islamist-based party asked parliament for an early election June 24. The opposition, which boycotted the presidential vote in parliament last week, argued that it should be nullified because a quorum wasn't present. Abdullah Gul, the foreign minister and a close ally of Erdogan, is opposed by secularists but refuses to withdraw his candidacy.

Relations between Russia and the ex-Soviet republic of Estonia took another turn for the worse Wednesday after activists tried to keep the latter's ambassador to the Kremlin from appearing at a news conference. Bodyguards had to use pepper spray to protect Marina Kaljurand, who'd planned to demand increased security for Estonia's embassy. Russians are angry at the removal of a Soviet-era memorial from central Tallinn, the Estonian capital, which triggered three days of rioting last week. Above, friends comfort an activist who was hit by the pepper spray.

Despite their indictments on war-crimes charges, Sudan will not hand over two suspects for trial by the International Criminal Court, a government spokesman said. The ICC issued arrest warrants Wednesday for Humanitarian Affairs Minister Ahmad Haroun and janjaweed militia leader Ali Muhammad Ali Abd al-Rahman for their alleged roles in atrocities against non-Arab civilians in the Darfur region. Sudan says its own courts should prosecute suspects in the Darfur atrocities.

A two-week ultimatum was issued by communists in Nepal's government for parliament to abolish the monarchy. Otherwise, their leader said Tuesday, they'll organize mass protests in the streets as well as in the legislature. Under the peace accord signed by the communists last year, the future of the monarchy is to be decided by a new parliament. But the communists complain that an election for that purpose is taking too long to organize.

On further review, the stash of cocaine unearthed by Colombia's Navy early this week is only half the size originally estimated, its spokesman said. The Defense Ministry had estimated its weight at 27 tons, making it the largest in the nation's history. But the Navy said the packages seized weighed less than those customarily wrapped by traffickers. At 14.5 tons, the seizure is still the largest this year, the spokesman said. Above, a drug enforcement agent inspects bricks taken from a package.

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