Iran has offered to suspend for up to two years the full-scale enrichment of uranium, a diplomat told the Associated Press Tuesday, on condition of anonymity. He said the offer should be viewed in the context of Iran's discussions on ceding enrichment to Russia as a way to escape the possible imposition of sanctions by the UN Security Council. But the diplomat said the initiative would not include small-scale enrichment.
Following up an airstrike that killed two Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip Monday, senior Israeli officials said Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas also could be targeted if his organization resumes attacks on Jewish targets. In response to a direct question by an interviewer, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said "No one there is immune, not [even] Ismail Haniyeh." But he said he'd recommend that Israel wait to see which principles the Hamas-led Palestinian government adopts before attempting strikes against its leaders. Hamas has carried out dozens of terrorist bombings against Jews, has rejected calls to negotiate peace, and refuses to recognize Israel. But it also has largely abided by a cease-fire declared a year ago.
Despite promising that it would end an economic boycott of Israel, Saudi Arabia will instead be the host of an international conference on extending the embargo, the Jerusalem Post reported. The meeting next week in Jiddah, the Saudi capital, will be attended by "all 57" members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, a senior official told the Post. Saudi Arabia was admitted to membership in the World Trade Organization (WTO) last November after agreeing to drop restrictions on trade with the Jewish state. WTO bylaws forbid any member from imposing an embargo on another member.
As many as three bombs exploded in the holiest Hindu city in India Tuesday night, and early reports said casualties were heavy. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh appealed for calm in the wake of the blasts, which killed at least 15 people and injured dozens of others, many of them critically. The bombs went off in a temple crowded with worshipers and in a railroad station in Varanasi, 450 miles east of New Delhi, the capital. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and police in other major cities were put on high alert for possible trouble. Nearby Lucknow had experienced fighting in recent days between Hindus and Muslims.
In a new blow to his prospects for remaining in office, Thailand's prime minister appeared to have lost the support of the national police leadership. A spokesman for the force, Gen. Archirawit Suphanaphesat, said he'd written to Thaksin Shina-watra, urging that he "not resume the premiership" even if his political party wins next month's national election. The police normally remain politically impartial and Thaksin himself is a former general. But analysts said Archirawit's letter almost certainly would have been sanctioned by a superior. Archirawit told journalists that a "respected person" should be chosen as interim prime minister before the April 2 election.
Delivering on a campaign promise, new President Evo Morales signed legislation that authorizes work to begin on rewriting Bolivia's Constitution. The measure creates a special commission whose 255 members are to be elected July 2 and to undertake their one-year mission Aug. 6. The product of their labors then will be put to a national referendum. Morales won election in December, pledging that poor, indigenous Bolivians would be given increased rights and powers and that the privatization of the nation's vital natural gas industry would be reversed. At least half the special panel must be women, and candidates may be as young as 18.