World

Israel and the Palestinians are making the "most serious effort" in years to resolve their conflict, and the time has come for the establishment of a state for the latter, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a news conference Monday in the West Bank. But, following talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, she cautioned that the expected peace conference the US is sponsoring next month must be substantive. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, with whom Rice met Sunday night, so far has resisted setting a timetable for resolving "final status" issues leading to a permanent peace accord.

Saying, "This is what we pray to Allah for," the leader of Iraq's largest Sunni bloc in parliament welcomed a goodwill visit to tribal sheikhs in Anbar Province by his Shiite counterpart. Ammar al-Hakim's visit, said analysts, was the latest sign that rival politicians may be making an end run around Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and pursuing reconciliation on their own. Maliki's government is heavily criticized for its ineffectiveness in bringing Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds together.

Parliament in Turkey will be asked to authorize an incursion into northern Iraq in pursuit of Kurdish separatist rebels, a government spokesman said Monday. But a senior military commander refused to speculate on the timing of such a mission.

China's communist leaders want "a formal end to the state of hostility" with Taiwan, President Hu Jintao told the party congress Monday. In a wide-ranging keynote speech, he also pledged to ensure wider sharing of the nation's economic boom and to make government more open and responsive – cautioning, however, that the party must remain "the core of leadership in directing the overall situation." Taiwan's government rejected his overture as "devoid of any significance." Above, a hostess delivers tea as Hu speaks.

Despite reports of a possible assassination plot against him, Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that he'd complete a planned trip to Iran. He was due in Tehran Monday night to confer with government leaders on Iran's disputed nuclear program. Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power plant but has stalled on delivering its startup fuel. Citing intelligence analysts, the Interfax news agency said terrorists intended to carry out a suicide attack against Putin on his arrival. Putin, in Germany (where he met with Chancellor Angela Merkel, above) on the first leg of his trip, said, "If I listened to all the various threats ... I'd never leave home."

Police accused Islamist radicals of responsibility for a bomb explosion inside a crowded movie theater in Ludhiana, India, Sunday night that killed at least six people and wounded 32 others, many of them critically. Authorities had tried to guard against retaliatory attacks following an explosion that killed three people last week at a Muslim shrine in neighboring Rajasthan State.

Thirty defendants went on trial Monday in Madrid for plotting to blow up Spain's Supreme Court in a follow-up attack to the 2004 bombing of commuter trains. The accused, most of them Algerians, were "an organized and structured terrorist group," according to the indictment. But there are no known links between them and the train bombers, whose attacks killed 191 people. The court building was to have been destroyed in a truck-bomb attack seven months later.

Rescue crews in China's Jiangxi Province battled pockets of gas as they searched for three missing men after an explosion collapsed a coal mine in which they were working, the Xinhua news agency reported Monday. Sixteen miners died in the accident, which occurred around midnight Saturday, the report said. More than 260 others escaped. The mine had a history of incidents involving excessive gas buildups.

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