An important terrorist command center in Fallujah was destroyed in an attack by US airstrikes and marines, as the national security adviser to Iraq's interim government said angry insurgents are providing it with valuable intelligence. He said Iraqis in Fallujah who have been resisting the government for their own reasons have grown resentful of watching terrorist leader "[Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi's people grab the limelight." Amid the efforts to quell terrorism, however, the humanitarian aid organization Care International suspended its work in Iraq a day after kidnappers abducted its director, Margaret Hassan.
Both sides are expected to propose compromises Thursday as European and Iranian negotiators meet in Vienna to try to resolve the standoff over the latter's nuclear ambitions. But only the Europeans were saying what they'll offer: a trade agreement plus the possibility of buying nuclear fuel from the West in return for permanently giving up the enrichment of uranium that could be used in producing weapons. Iranian leaders would not detail their offer but said their negotiators were ready to "assure the world" that such weapons aren't being built. They have said Iran will never give up the "right" to enrich uranium.
Interim President Hamid Karzai opened an unofficial 44 percent lead over his closest challenger as ballot-counting neared the halfway point in Afghanistan's historic national election. Barring a discovery by investigators of serious fraud, a technical adviser to the UN commission that organized the Oct. 9 vote said it should be possible to announce as soon as Thursday that Karzai's margin is insurmountable.
Forecasting "difficult times" and "heavy challenges," new Indonesian President Susilo Bambamg Yudhoyono accepted his oath of office as the first popularly elected leader of the world's largest Muslim country. Among his top priorities is expected to be trying to jump-start an economy saddled with 40 percent unemployment and further impaired by graft and corruption. Although outgoing President Megawati Sukarnoputri snubbed him by boycotting his inauguration, Yudhoyono went out of his way to compliment her in his remarks.
In a surprise move, billionaire Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon quit, fired his cabinet, and said he wouldn't accept an offer to form a new government. But political analysts suggested it all could be a ploy to better position himself in his longstanding power struggle with President Emile Lahoud, with a new national election expected next May. Hariri's announcement came amid the UN Security Council's latest demand that neighboring Syria withdraw its 14,000 troops from Lebanon. Syria so far has refused.