Truck bombs exploded outside the British Consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, and the high-rise offices of London-based HSBC bank, killing at least 26 people, injuring more than 400 others, and littering streets with debris. British Consul General Roger Short was among the dead. The blasts occurred less than a week after two suicide bombings at Jewish synagogues in the Turkish commercial capital. "The goal of these attacks is doomed to be destroyed in the face of the government's determination ... and international solidarity in fighting terrorism," Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush denounced the blasts in Istanbul, saying they demonstrate the need for counterterrorism efforts, including the war in Iraq. "We stand absolutely firm until this job is done; done in Iraq, done elsewhere in the world," Blair said at a joint news conference with Bush, who concludes his state visit Friday. Their discussions also reportedly touched on British nationals held at the US military detention facility in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and US steel tariffs.

The UN's nuclear agency believes Russia, China, and Pakistan probably supplied Iran with equipment for its clandestine nuclear program, diplomats said in Vienna. Russia's nuclear ministry denied the allegations, which surfaced as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board worked on a draft resolution criticizing Iran for concealing parts of its nuclear activities for the past 20 years. The US, which accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, wants the board to find Tehran in breach of international obligations.

South Africa's government approved a plan to provide free AIDS medication Wednesday, in a country where 4.7 million people, or 11 percent of the population, is diagnosed with HIV. "There is still a long way to go" Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang warned, noting that setting up a nationwide system of local distribution centers is expected to take five years.

In a decision nearly certain to set off fresh antigovernment protests, Georgia's election commission confirmed the validity of parliamentary elections that opposition parties maintain were rigged. In first and second place were two parties that support embattled President Eduard Shevardnadze. Third went to the National Movement of opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili, who vowed to try to block the new parliament from convening.

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