World

In return for a guarantee of protection against coup attempts, Iraq will support a long-term presence by US troops and offer preferential treatment for American investments, the Associated Press reported Monday. Citing two senior government officials as sources, it said Iraq also wants an end to all restrictions on sovereignty and to the UN-mandated mission of multinational forces.

Pakistan's president will "take off his uniform" Wednesday and be sworn in for a new term Thursday, a military spokesman said. The announcement was the first by the armed forces about Pervez Musharraf's timetable for restoring civilian rule. It contrasted with the move by newly returned former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to register as a candidate for the critical Jan. 8 parliamentary election. Sharif said, however, that if elected, he would not lead a government under Musharraf.

Despite the irritant to US-Russian relations posed by the planned antimissile shield in eastern Europe, the latter is ready for new dialogue on defense cooperation, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said Monday. Russia has objected bitterly to the system, parts of which would be built in the Czech Republic and Poland. But Ivanov's remarks were more upbeat than those of the Foreign Ministry last week to compromise proposals for the system submitted by the US. It said they were "disappointing." Still, Ivanov said, Russia will be "guided by our national interests" in any further discussion of the issue.

Calling the leader of neighboring Colombia a "shameless liar," Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez (l.) escalated tensions between their governments by putting bilateral relations "in the freezer." Reconciliation with pro-US President Alvaro Uribe "is impossible now," he said. Last week, Uribe put a stop to Chávez's mediation efforts in the dispute between the Colombian government and the leftist FARC rebel movement. He accused Chávez of siding with the rebels. It was not clear what effect the spat between them might have on two-way trade, which amounted to $4.1 billion last year.

Minority youths went on a rampage in a suburb of Paris Sunday night, recalling the urban riots that rocked France two years ago. The trouble began after two teens were killed when the motorbike they were riding collided with a police cruiser. Sympathizers then set other vehicles on fire, vandalized stores, and attacked a police station in Villiers-le-Bel. Twenty-one policemen were hurt in the melee. The mayor appealed for calm and demanded an "impartial" investigation. Above, a youth walks away from police at the scene of the accident.

Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd of Australia announced Monday that an early priority once he assumes office will be to apologize to the nation's Aborigines for past indignities. The issue is contentious; defeated Prime Minister John Howard repeatedly has refused to issue an apology, saying his generation ought not be made to feel guilty over the mistakes of its predecessors. But Rudd campaigned in part on such a pledge. In reaction to his election victory, Australia's stock index rose 2.2 percent Monday, its biggest one-day gain in two months.

A section of a soccer stadium rated the worst in Brazil collapsed as a game was ending Sunday night, plunging fans through a gaping hole to the street below. At least seven people died; an unspecified number of others were hospitalized with critical injuries. Reports said fans in the upper deck of the stadium at Salvador in Bahia State were jumping in celebration because their team was about to qualify for promotion to a more prestigious level of competition.

In a bid to promote tourism, President Felipe Calderón said Sunday that almost $5 million in new government spending will be earmarked to promote and protect Mexico's famous monarch butterfly reserve. The main threat to the 124,000-acre site in impoverished Michoacan State is illegal logging. Each winter, millions of the delicate orange-and-back insects migrate from the US and Canada to the reserve, where they depend on trees to shield them from cold and rain.

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