Calling President Bush "wicked," Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claimed Wednesday that too little time remains in his term to do harm to the Islamic republic. Echoing those remarks, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki suggested that the US lacks the capacity to carry out a military strike on Iran. The two spoke in response to Bush's insistence in meetings with European leaders that "all options are on the table" to stop the Iranian nuclear program, although his "first choice is to solve this diplomatically."
Israel's leaders decided against an immediate full-scale invasion of the Gaza Strip, choosing instead to allow more time for Egyptian efforts to broker a cease-fire with Hamas. But they ordered the Army to stand by for a possible later operation if the Egyptian mission fails. A Hamas spokesman dismissed the decision as "not serious" because the threat of an invasion still exists.
Beleaguered South Korean President Lee Myung Bak said Wednesday his government intends to make a fresh start amid growing opposition to the resumption of beef imports from the US. He vowed "new determination" in response to the largest rally yet against the beef deal: an all-night vigil by about 80,000 people in Seoul. Lee's entire cabinet has offered to quit over the issue. He has yet to say whether he'll accept the resignations, but it was reported that he approached rival Park Geun Hye to ask whether she'd accept the prime ministership.
Military leaders and the new government of Pakistan blasted as "unprovoked and cowardly" an airstrike by US forces that killed 11 soldiers at a border post. The incident would "hit at the very basis of cooperation and sacrifice" in their effort to support the counterterrorism war, the Pakistanis warned. it occurred late Tuesday in a fight with militants recrossing the border after attacking targets in Afghanistan's Kunar Province. US officials said they'd investigate but that the airstrike had been coordinated with Pakistani forces.
Less than a month before he serves as host of the Group of Eight summit, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda was dealt a historic embarrassment. The upper house of parliament voted 131-105 to censure him over a plan to raise health insurance costs for elderly policy-holders. The no-confidence measure, the latest in a series of moves by the opposition-dominated chamber to try to force an early election, was the first to pass in Japan's postwar era. But it was considered certain to fail in the lower house, which Fukuda's Liberal Democratic Party dominates.
Investigators not only were trying to determine what caused a fatal fire aboard a Sudan Airways jetliner but also how many survivors left the scene without clearing customs. The latter factor made it difficult to account for everyone aboard the Airbus 310 plane as it veered off a runway and erupted in flames on landing at Khartoum Tuesday night. Authorities said at least 29 people died; 171 others are believed to have escaped.
Shrugging off the possibility of being jailed again, leading dissident Hector Palacios announced plans to return home to Cuba and resume efforts to free political prisoners. He has lived in exile in Spain since being paroled from a 25-year sentence in 2006 to seek treatment for various medical problems. His Liberal Unity group was outlawed and he was charged with undermining the communist system. Palacios said his wife, Gisela Delgado, also a dissident, will return with him.
Vo Van Kiet, who died in Singa-pore, was a fierce critic of Vietnam's communist system even as he worked his way up to the prime ministership in 1991. He is credited with designing the reforms that turned the war-torn nation into one of the world's fastest-growing market economies.