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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn / July 22, 2008



It is "totally abhorrent" for Iran's leaders to call for Israel to be destroyed, Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain said Monday. Addressing Israel's parliament, he said his government and the US would remain at the forefront of efforts to stop the Islamic republic from developing nuclear weapons. Informed sources said the US and Britain would give Iran two weeks to halt the enriching of uranium or be hit with a new set of sanctions.

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Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe, or his representative, were to sign a memorandum of understanding Monday committing themselves to negotiate a power-sharing government in Zimbabwe. But skeptics noted that the agreement only covers the framework for the talks and that Tsvangirai still is insisting that certain demands be met before the discussions can begin.

Military planners in Russia are discussing a strategy under which strategic warplanes would be deployed in Cuba if the US proceeds with its proposed missile defense shield, the Izvestiya newspaper reported. Citing a "highly placed source," it said the planes under consideration are the TU-95 and TU-160 bombers. The latter is supersonic and carries nuclear weapons. In Poland, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Monday that his government and the US are "drawing closer" to an agreement on siting missile interceptors on Polish soil.

Members of India's parliament who are hospitalized or in jail were being released so they can vote on a critical motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday. The outcome is expected to be too close to call, although Singh appeared confident he'd survive the vote. The motion was called over his backing for a controversial nuclear technology exchange with the US.

To help the current round of negotiations on a global trade deal "get off to a strong start," the European Union offered a 60 percent cut – its deepest yet – in tariffs on farm products. US Trade Representative Susan Schwab pledged that the Bush administration also would help to make the talks a success if developing nations agreed to open their markets rather than subsidize farmers' crops. The negotiations are being held in Geneva.

Police hastily set up checkpoints around the southwestern city of Kunming, China, Monday to try to catch the perpetrators after separate explosions killed at least two people and hurt 14 others aboard public buses during the morning rush hour. The attacks, which officially were labeled sabotage, came less than three weeks before the Olympic Summer Games open in Beijing. China's government repeatedly has warned of terroristic threats to the sports festival.

By a 308-to-282 vote, members of parliament in Nepal chose a physician as the nation's first president after 240 years of monarchy. Ram Baran Yadav was the candidate of the Congress Party, and his election was seen as a clear defeat for the former communist rebels, who'd threatened to refuse to form a government if their choice didn't win. The post is largely ceremonial, but the ex-rebels had refused to allow it to go to recently resigned Prime Minister G.P. Koirala, also of the Congress Party.

Neighbors of Fiji in the Pacific Islands Forum blasted military ruler Frank Bainimarama Monday for breaking his promise to restore democracy by next spring. But, speaking for the forum, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said it would continue working with the island nation. Last Friday, Bainimarama said the reforms he wants to make to the political system can't be completed in time to hold a free election by the end of March, as originally planned.

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