Any concession made by Iran in its nuclear confrontation with the West will only lead to more in the future, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday. So "the Iranian nation ... won't give the smallest concession ... to any power at all," he said, beyond a report already handed to the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency on its nuclear program. On the basis of that report, the IAEA has found Iran to be "generally truthful" about its nuclear history. Iran's UN ambassador said Tuesday his government expects no new UN sanctions due to the transparency finding and because of support by Security Council members Russia and China.
By Saturday, President Pervez Musharraf may give up command of the Army and take his oath of office as a civilian, Pakistan's attorney general said. The swearing-in, however, still awaited dismissal of the final legal challenge to Musharraf's reelection by the Supreme Court and confirmation of his victory by the Election Commission. Meanwhile, Pakistan appealed to the Commonwealth of former British colonies to delay its decision on suspending Musharraf's government.
Thousands of Russians (one of them above) jammed a Moscow sports arena Wednesday in a last-ditch appeal for Vladimir Putin to change his mind and stay on as president. He is banned by the Constitution from seeking a third term. Opinion polls give his United Russia movement more than 60 percent support for the Dec. 2 election. Appearing before the gathering, he made no announcement about his own future. Instead, he blasted "foreign" enemies for seeking to weaken Rusia by financing his political opponents.
Relief operations following the cyclone Sidr have reached full speed, officials in Bangladesh said, with all but a few isolated areas receiving attention. The World Bank became the latest donor of aid Wednesday, offering $250 million on top of $190 million from other governments and agencies. The powerful storm, which is blamed for at least 3,100 deaths, was Bangladesh's worst disaster since 1991. Above, a villager steps over a fallen tree en route home with relief supplies.
Prime Minister John Howard of Australia was insisting that Saturday's national election is "very winnable" despite opinion polls that consistently have indicated victory for the opposition Labor Party. Intensifying his campaign for reelection, Howard spent its final days warning that Labor leader Kevin Rudd lacks experience to manage the economy. Rudd has called Howard's government "tired" after 11 years in power. Analysts say the election outcome may be closer than polling has indicated.
Next month's referendum in Venezuela appears likely to pass despite loud public opposition, pollsters said. The ballot question, which asks voters to approve of scrapping term limits for leftist President Hugo Chávez, is laden with "sweeteners," such as a shorter workday. Moreover, the pollsters said, enough hard-core Chávez supporters will vote "yes" to ensure its passage by about a 10-point margin. The referendum is scheduled for Dec. 2.
Having lost his immunity from prosecution, former French President Jacques Chirac was placed under investigation for suspected embezzlement during his 18 years as mayor of Paris. The move does not necessarily mean that he will be tried, but he is the first president in modern French history to fall under such a probe.
Joining Saudi Arabia in efforts to combat carbon emissions, the government of Japan announced a $2 billion initiative to help other Asian countries protect the environment. It will be targeted particularly at China and India, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said. Coastal Japan experiences serious air pollution from Chinese industries. Earlier this week, Saudi King Abdullah pledged $300 million for the same purpose.