Iran's main reformist party threatened Monday to boycott the June 17 presidential elections. The threat came in response to the decision of the government's Guardian Council to bar their top candidate, former Education Minister Mustafa Moin, from running. Moin, an outspoken reformer, had promised to free political prisoners and work to put an end to human rights abuses if he was elected.

China abruptly canceled Monday's meeting in Tokyo between Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi and Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, citing urgent business at home. The decision angered Japanese officials, who said that the Japanese people might consider the sudden cancellation impolite. Wu's visit was to be part of a string of official contacts aimed at repairing tense relations between the two countries.

Police officials in Zimbabwe threatened that the government would not tolerate further public protests against the crackdown on "illegal" street vending. Angry demonstrators have clashed with police and paramilitary forces in recent days in the most serious unrest since the March 31 elections. The tension has grown as the country's economic situation continues to deteriorate in the wake of last week's 45 percent devaluation of the Zimbabwean dollar.

Monday's car bombing at a popular restaurant in Baghdad killed at least four civillians and left more than 70 wounded, Iraqi police officers said. The blast struck the crowded restaurant at lunch time.

Russian military Chief Yuri Baluyevsky called Monday for the international community to do "everything possible" to prevent North Korea from conducting nuclear tests. Baluyevsky called for the renewal of the six- nation talks aimed at persuading Pyongyang to drop its nuclear program. In related news, Russia's ambassador to Japan, Alexander Losyukov, said he was pessimistic about the chances of getting North Korea to return to the negotiating table, calling the situation a "full-scale international crisis."

After his Social Democratic Party suffered a stinging defeat in a former regional stronghold, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder announced plans to hold a parliamentary confidence vote by early July. According to German law, new elections would then have to take place by Sept. 18. Germany's economy has been sluggish, with unemployment hovering near 12 percent.

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