Saying, "You need us more than we need you," senior Iranian officials warned over the weekend of a rise in crude oil prices "beyond levels the West expects" if their government is referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear ambitions. State radio also reported that $215 million had been allocated for the building of two more nuclear power plants. The government has said it wants 20 new reactors. In London, meanwhile, representatives of the European Union, Russia, China, and the US met to try to resolve differences over what action to take against Iran. Russia, which has offered to build some of the new Iranian reactors, and China both could veto any sanctions that might be proposed in the Security Council.

More and larger anti-American protests were vowed by Islamist organizations in Pakistan after last Friday's airstrike on a border town that killed at least 17 people - but apparently not No. 2 Al Qaeda leader Ayman al- Zawahiri. Zawahiri had been invited to dinner in the town at the time of the strike, but did not show up, according to intelligence sources. US officials have not provided details on the attack, seven miles from the border with Afghanistan. An estimated 10,000 Pakistanis protested Sunday in Karachi, and similar demonstrations were held in Islamabad, Lahore, and other cities. President Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz also complained, although Musharraf urged Pakistanis not to harbor militants, warning that doing so would bring more violence.

President Hamid Karzai urged other world leaders not to turn their backs on Afghanistan, arguing that "If you don't defend yourself here, you will have to defend yourself back home." He spoke as terrorists exploded bombs in southern Afghanistan Sunday and Monday, killing a Canadian diplomat and 20 other people and wounding dozens more. The Taliban claimed responsibility for Monday's blast, which went off as a crowd gathered to watch a wrestling match. At least 25 such explosions have been reported in the past four months.

Tens of thousands more birds were slaughtered by health authorities in Turkey as they raced to try to control the spread of avian flu amid reports that another child had died from it. Outbreaks have been found across one-third of Turkey, which lies at the crossroads of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. The cull has reached 764,000 birds over the past two weeks, officials said. In Japan, authorities said Monday that 770,000 more domesticated fowl would be killed as a precaution. In Beijing, the World Bank convened a conference of donors, setting a $1.2 billion goal for pledges to help poorer nations deal with the problem.

With ballot-counting from Sunday's presidential runoff election all but complete, Chileans consolidated the leftward shift in South American politics, giving Socialist Michelle Bachelet a victory over billionaire Sebastian Piñera. Leftists also head the governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Venezuela, and leftist President-elect Evo Morales of Bolivia is to be inaugurated Sunday. Bachelet will be Chile's first female head of state. Unlike some other leftist presidents, however, she is not expected to change her nation's relationship with the US, analysts said.

Vice President Cheney added Kuwait to his itinerary for the tour of the Middle East he resumed Sunday - to pay US respects on the death of its ruler, Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmed, al-Sabah. The emir was succeeded by Crown Prince Sheikh Saad al-Abdullah al-Sabah. But Kuwaiti affairs are largely overseen by the prime minister, another member of the al-Sabah dynasty, and no changes in foreign policy are expected, especially its strategic alliance with the US and its place in the world oil markets, analysts said. Cheney cut short his Middle Eastern trip last month to cast a tie-breaking vote in the US Senate on cutting $40 billion from the federal deficit.

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