Hamas won a pledge of financial support from Iran's government Wednesday, but Israeli leaders warned that if the offer is accepted, "We would be entitled to use all legal means to prevent that money from reaching its destination." The Foreign Ministry said Hamas must decide whether to be part of "the legitimate international community or ... align itself with international pariahs." Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared to suggest that Israel would not use military action against a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, reportedly telling parliament's Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee, the militant organization "is not a strategic threat."
Expectations were low as negotiators for Sri Lanka's government and Tamil rebels opened two days of talks outside Geneva. Observers said the discussions would be a success if the two sides set a date for a later round. The rebels seek autonomy for the Tamil minority in Sri Lanka's north and east. The government was expected to argue that the shaky four-year-old truce has only given the rebels time to strengthen their military capabilities and needs to be revamped.
Violence between Muslims and Christians was in its fifth day in southeastern Nigeria, and witnesses said they saw the remains of at least 20 more victims. To date, 73 people have died in the fighting, reports said. The latest casualties were blamed on Christians taking revenge for killings in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria last weekend over the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. Meanwhile, tribesmen holding nine foreign oil-company employees hostage in the Niger Delta said they will not be freed anytime soon and called government efforts to seek negotiations on the matter a waste of time.
June 18 was selected as the date for the long-awaited but repeatedly delayed first round of voting for president in Congo, reports said. The volatile African nation has not elected a head of government since the early 1960s. The transitional administration that was established in 2003, following five years of civil war, was to hold an election by last June. But it was scuttled by failures of planning and legislative foot-dragging and organizers said they'd next aim for March.
Gen. Ratko Mladich, one of the most-wanted fugitives from the civil wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, was "within reach" of authorities in Serbia but had yet to give himself up, reports said Wednesday. Whether negotiations for his surrender were under way was in dispute between government officials and the chief prosecutor of the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. Mladich is under indictment for allegedly ordering such atrocities as the 1995 murders of 8,000 Muslim males at Srebrenica, Bosnia. The government, which depends for support on nationalists to whom Mladich is a hero, has said for years that it couldn't find him. But it is also under a warning from the European Union that if he is not sent to The Hague by month's end for trial, its hopes of joining the bloc could be suspended indefinitely.
Fourteen junior officers and sergeants in the Philippines military have been questioned about their roles in a plot to topple President Gloria Arroyo, the Army's chief general said. The coup was to have been timed for either a reunion of military academy graduates last weekend or March 25, when Arroyo is scheduled to address this year's graduating class, he said. Meanwhile, riot police in Manila clashed with an estimated 10,000 anti-Arroyo protesters Wednesday. The "people power" revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos took place 20 years ago this weekend. For her part, Arroyo was touring what remains of the rural village buried under a massive landslide as heavy rain forced rescuers to stop work for fear more unstable soil would engulf them.