World

Despite next week's talks between US and Iranian officials over security in Iraq, the latter government is secretly planning a summer offensive aimed at forcing American troops to withdraw, a published report said Tuesday. Citing unidentified US officials in Baghdad, Britain's Guardian newspaper said Iran, Al Qaeda, Shiite and Sunni Arab militants, and even Kurdish politicians will attempt an Iraq-wide strategy that would cause a "decisive congressional revolt" against President Bush and a vote for full US withdrawal.

Israeli aircraft pounded more Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip Tuesday in retaliation for a rocket attack that killed a Jewish woman, and government leaders said not even Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh "is immune from a strike." Defense Minister Amir Peretz warned that Israel also would mount a ground offensive in Gaza unless international pressure stopped Hamas from firing rockets into Israeli territory.

At least six people were hurt as a series of bombs exploded Tuesday in an Indian city that is a center of hard-line Hinduism, first reports said. The blasts came four days after someone bombed a mosque in the southern city of Hyderabad, killing 11 Muslims. On Monday, bombs were found aboard a passenger train that carries pilgrims to a Hindu shrine. They were removed before they could go off.

Four Catholics, among them a former prisoner of the British government, were named Tuesday to the new policing board for Northern Ireland. The panel is to meet for the first time May 30, three weeks after Protestants and Catholics forged a power-sharing coalition government. Previously, Sinn Fein, the leading Catholic political party, had refused to recognize the authority of the Protestant-dominated police.

Secret discussions have begun between the government of Thailand and leaders of the Muslim separatist movement in three southern provinces, an adviser to Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont said. Surayud, although a retired Army general, has pursued negotiation as the way out of the violence that has wracked the region for the past three years. Despite the talks, separatists shot another Buddhist to death Tuesday and booby-trapped his remains with a bomb. Three policemen and a Time magazine photographer were hurt when it exploded.

Opposition leaders blasted President Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan for signing a constitutional amendment that allows him to remain in office for life. The ex-Soviet republic has never held an election deemed fully democratic. Still, the US views the oil-rich Central Asian state as a counterweight to Russia and an alternative to the Middle East as a source of energy.

The political party that ruled Mexico for 71 years claimed victory in another gubernatorial election Tuesday, an outcome that suggests it is on the comeback trail. Ivonne Ortega of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) won the office in Yucatan State over the candidate of President Felipe Calderón's National Action Party. Calderón largely ignored the race, an indication that he was willing to trade the governorship for PRI support of his reform agenda in Congress, analysts said. Last fall, the PRI also won the governorship of Tabasco State.

Risking a deeper division in the Anglican movement over homosexuality and interpretation of scripture, its leader chose not to invite two controversial American bishops to next year's international meeting on doctrinal issues. The Archbishop of Canterbury left prelates Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and Martyn Minns off the list of more than 800 bishops summoned to the Lambeth Conference, an event held every 10 years. Robinson is openly homosexual; Minns heads a breakaway faction known as the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, which is not officially recognized.

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