A package of rewards for Iran if its government agrees to halt the enrichment of uranium - and penalties if it doesn't - is to be presented Tuesday. The proposals were being carried to Tehran by Javier Solana, the European Union's chief of foreign policy. The incentives, worked out by diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany and then endorsed by the US, Russia, and China, were being kept under wraps. But reports said they offer nuclear-reactor technology, security guarantees, and a lifting of trade sanctions that would allow sales to Iran of vital commercial aircraft. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said again last weekend that Iran would consider the proposal but that giving up enrichment of uranium was unacceptable.
Still more tension engulfed the Palestinian territories Monday as the Hamas-led government failed to keep its promise to pay civil servants their overdue wages. At the same time, President Mahmoud Abbas refused to consider changes to the proposal he says Hamas must accept by Tuesday - recognition of Israel's right to exist - or else he'll schedule a referendum on the issue. That stance led Hamas militants to invade studios of Palestine TV in Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip, smashing and shooting into its equipment in a show of strength. In Gaza City, dozens of angry people forced their way into a bank, demanding money before officials shut it for the day.
At least 50 people were seized at bus stations in Baghdad by gunmen dressed as police in one of the largest mass kidnappings to date in Iraq. It was not known who was responsible for the incident, although violence linked to sectarian animosity between Sunnis and Shiites has worsened almost daily since the bombing of a revered Shiite mosque in Samarra Feb. 22.
Islamist militia leaders claimed control of Somalia's capital Monday after the worst fighting there in more than a decade. The claim appeared to be confirmed by followers of the secular warlord alliance that has opposed the militia. They said their leaders had fled Moga-dishu. About 350 people, many of them civilians, have been killed there since the latest wave of fighting began. Residents welcomed the apparent end of hostilities, but analysts warned that the city could become a mini-Afghanistan under the influence of Al Qaeda.
The leading Protestant politician in Northern Ireland sought a two-week extension of the deadline set by the British government to get a power-sharing administration up and running again or be abolished. The Rev. Ian Paisley of the Democratic Unionist Party said the Nov. 24 date should be moved to Dec. 8 because Britain had canceled debate in the Northern Ireland Assembly, which will choose the Catholic-Protestant administration. The DUP refuses to cooperate with Sinn Fein, which represents most Catholics but is linked to the outlawed Irish Republican Army. Paisley's request would require a new act of Parliament.
More than $200 billion a year - almost 10 percent of China's gross domestic product - is spent on environmental damage from pollution, the government acknowledged. It said a quarter-century of development has made the problem "grave" and now is causing "serious harm to people's health." China has pledged repeatedly to clean up air, water, and ground pollution, especially in view of its host role for the 2008 Olympic Summer Games. But the deputy chief of the State Environmental Protection Agency said that while 500,000 people work in that field, their efforts often are thwarted by local officials who fail to enforce antipollution rules.