World

Negotiations with Iran on its disputed nuclear program are "very difficult because the Islamic republic doesn't want to stop enriching uranium," European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said Monday. He spoke as a 130-nation meeting in Vienna stalled for the sixth straight day because of Iran's refusal even to agree to the language of the agenda. At issue is a phrase calling for the "need for full compliance" with the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

North Korea hasn't forgotten its commitment to shut down its nuclear facilities, a spokesman told the Associated Press Monday. He said the closure "can be done immediately and won't take long." The North missed the April 14 deadline to seal the facilities. But the government insists it first must access $25 million in funds that were frozen in a Macao bank blacklisted by the US. No other institution has been willing to accept a transfer of the funds, and a published report said rival South Korea was considering whether to offer its Export-Import Bank as an intermediary.

The Taliban extended their deadline for a trade that would free a French hostage and three Afghan colleagues, saying that President-elect Nicolas Sarkozy has pressing domestic issues to address. They said Sunday that Sarkozy has until his government is in place – probably late next month – to agree to withdraw France's troops from Afghanistan.

Arguing that national security is more important than a truce, Sri Lanka's government conceded that its forces repeatedly have struck Tamil rebel targets.But the rebels also have violated the cease-fire "over and over again," a spokesman said Monday, suggesting that the government wants to take a fresh look at the 2002 agreement. The government also said the rebels' so-called air force, which has bombed sensitive targets in nighttime raids and escaped unscathed each time, poses a threat to nuclear installations in neighboring India.

Amid tight security, former Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina arrived home in Bangladesh Monday despite charges brought against her for abetting murder and corruption. The military-backed government lifted a ban on her return April 25 while she was on a personal trip abroad. Hasina's feud with her bitter rival, Khaleda Zia, triggered a state of emergency and efforts to consign both to exile abroad.

Supporters of both candidates in Wednesday's presidential runoff in East Timor were urged by the UN to remain calm and accept the outcome, because "so far, this has been a free and fair process." The runoff pits Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta against the candidate of the ruling Fretilin Party, Francisco Guterres. Ramos-Horta won the first round April 9 by a 28 percent to 22 percent margin and since then has picked up the endorsements of five other candidates in the race. But Guterres has complained that Australian peacekeeping troops have intimidated his supporters, and there have been warnings of violent protests if he loses.

Search crews reported finding no survivors from the crash of a Kenyan Airways jet in a thickly forested area of Cameroon Monday. The flight, which originated in Ivory Coast and was bound for Nairobi, went down in a heavy rainstorm early Saturday morning shortly after takeoff from an intermediate stop.

The remains of five more men were recovered Monday from a gas explosion and fire in a coal mine in China's Shanxi Province, bringing to 28 the number of dead. The accident was the second in the province in less than a week. Shanxi is the No. 1 producer of coal in a nation where the demand for energy to feed a booming economy is voracious.

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