Iraq's prime minister and president both tried Wednesday to persuade Turkey not to launch cross-border military operations against Kurdish separatist rebels. With parliament in Ankara opening debate on a measure authorizing the incursions, CNN quoted Iraqi government chief Nouri al-Maliki as saying, "Give us another chance; if necessary, let's conduct a joint operation." The legislature was expected to OK the motion. Above, Turkish soldiers position vehicles on a road at the border.
Thousands of security personnel, along with bomb-disposal squads, were being positioned in Pakistan's largest city for the return from exile of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. But authorities in Karachi appealed to her to drop plans for a 10-mile-long procession into the city on grounds that it would expose her to attack by Islamist militants despite the precautions. Despite requests by the national government that she postpone the trip, Bhutto and her family are due to arrive Thursday afternoon on a flight from Dubai.
The crackdown against antigovernment demonstrators has resulted in 2,927 arrests so far, and others are still being hunted, Burma's military rulers said Wednesday. Hundreds remain in custody, they said, blaming Buddhist monks for last month's violence. If monks hadn't led protests, a statement in the official government newspaper said, "the nation would not have seen any chaos." The government says 10 people died in the crackdown, but Western diplomats think the number is far higher.
Armed security forces raided the UN compound in Somalia's capital Wednesday and arrested the local chief of the World Food Program. The agency, which maintains the largest UN presence in the war-torn country, promptly suspended operations, calling the arrest a violation of international law. The interim government's Interior Ministry denied that armed forces personnel were involved in the raid. But it complained that the agency had been distributing food without first consulting the government.
In another new challenge to economically stressed Zimbabweans, their government announced Wednesday that the annual inflation rate rose more than 1,380 points last month, to 7,982.1 percent, the world's highest. Analysts said the true rate probably is higher still and may continue to rise as businesses exercise newly won permission to raise prices again after a government order to cut them by half resulted only in empty supermarket shelves.
Neighboring South Pacific governments welcomed the announcement by Fiji's military ruler Wednesday that he'll schedule a national election by the end of March 2009 and abide by its outcome. But they said they'd consider lifting economic sanctions only after seeing concrete progress on restoring democracy there. Self-appointed Prime Minister Frank Bani-marama, who seized power last December, made the commitment at a regional summit conference. Previously, he'd only committed himself "in principle" to an election.
Twenty-three Roman Catholic archbishops, one of them from Baghdad, were promoted to the rank of cardinal by Pope Benedict XVI. All but five are under 80, meaning they'll be eligible to vote on the pope's successor. Prelate Emmanuel III Delly of Baghdad particularly deserved merit because he has advocated protection for minority Christians from Iraq's sectarian violence, the pope said.
Tens of thousands of residents on Indonesia's Java island vacated temporary shelters (one of them above) and returned to the slopes of the Mt. Kelud volcano, defying a government order that the area be evacuated. Disaster management officials raised the alert level to the maximum Tuesday, warning that "it may erupt in two or three days." But one resident said, "We came back because nothing happened." Kelud has erupted twice since 1919, killing more than 5,000 people.