World

Iran's leadership exulted at a US intelligence finding that it halted work on its nuclear weapons program four years ago. "We welcome countries that correct their views realistically," the Foreign Ministry said, and senior legislators predicted the finding would "disarm" Bush administration threats to use force to stop Iran's pursuit of a nuclear program. The International Atomic Energy Agency said the finding backs up its own conclusions about Iran's program. But Israel's prime and defense ministers said they believe the Iranian program has been resumed.

While the US has been "more than generous," Afghanistan's military needs additional weapons and "mentors," its armed forces chief told visiting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates Tuesday. Gates said the US was well aware of the need and was looking for ways to "expedite" both categories. His arrival in Kabul, however, was marred by a car bomb attack that wounded at least 22 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility.

Last month's cyclone in Bangla-desh was more devastating than previously thought, UN aid officials said Tuesday. They estimated that more than 2 million people need immediate assistance. The impoverished South Asian nation has asked for $1 billion to rebuild its coastal region and appealed to lenders to suspend repayments for four months. Neighboring India, which has pledged millions of dollars in aid, also offered last weekend to "adopt" 10 villages for the purpose of "doing whatever is needed [to] repair roads, dams, schools, or electric lines."

An estimated 250,000 unionized miners went on strike across South Africa Tuesday, interrupting production and sending market prices for gold and other commodities spiraling upward as they demanded improved safety standards. South Africa's mines are among the world's deepest, and even operators admit that safety standards leave much to be desired. Fatalities this year already had exceeded those of 2006 by the end of September.Above, strikers protest in the streets of Johannesburg.

Aides to beleaguered Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf insisted he was rushed to a hospital in neighboring Kenya only for a "regular check-up" despite reports that he's in poor health. The news came as four ministers from new Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein's cabinet quit less than a day after their appointments because of "scorn" against their clan. Meanwhile, the Information Ministry of Ethiopia, whose troops helped Yusuf oust Islamist militiamen from control of Somalia early this year, complained that hesitation by other African governments to send promised peacekeepers has dampened hopes for peace there.

Outgoing Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt of Belgium agreed to take over coalition-forging efforts after his would-be successor twice failed at them. Since last June's election, parties from the Dutch- and French-speaking regions have been unable to compromise between demands for greater autonomy and maintaining the consensus politics status-quo. Verhofstadt's Liberal Party lost the election to Yves Leterme's Christian Democrats, and Belgium has had a caretaker government ever since.

A Constituent Assembly set up by leftist President Rafael Correa to rewrite Ecuador's charter began work under a midweek deadline to approve its own bylaws. The assembly, dominated by Correa allies, already has voted to suspend the Congress, which the president considers corrupt and incompetent. He said last weekend that he expects the new panel to "make those who have more, pay more" in taxes.

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