With one week to go before their promised reply to an offer of incentives for halting the enrichment of uranium, senior Iranians said Wednesday they'd discuss such a suspension. But Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Western governments extending the offer must understand that "there is no logic behind the suspension of Iran's activities." Under a binding UN Security Council resolution, Iran's government has until Aug. 31 to give up uranium enrichment or risk the imposition of economic and diplomatic sanctions. Meanwhile, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a televised speech that Western nations "should know that the Iranian people do not bend to the language of force."
Another strategic city in Somalia fell to the Union of Islamic Courts (UIC) Wednesday as the movement expanded its territorial push outward from the capital, Mogadishu. Forces loyal to an absent warlord surrendered the seaport of Hobyo without a fight, and new UIC leader Hassan Dahir Aweys personally led a column of battle wagons – pickup trucks mounted with heavy machine guns – into the city. The latest takeover means the UN-backed transitional Somali government has been flanked by the UIC. Neighboring Ethiopia, however, has pledged to come to the government's defense if Baidoa, its base, comes under attack.
Supporters of defeated leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador warned that his rival will find himself "under siege" if Mexico's election commission declares him the winner of the July 2 presidential vote. Upping the ante yet again in Obrador's bid to force a full recount of ballots, his Democratic Revolution Party said conservative Felipe Calderón "will not be able to operate outside his office." Cal-derón appeared to have won the election, but by a margin of only 0.58 percent, and Obrador alleges that the voting was marred by fraud. A court-ordered partial recount reportedly is complete, although its results have not yet been revealed. The commission has until Sept. 6 to declare an official winner. Obrador backers announced plans for another mass march in Mexico City five days before that deadline.
A new diplomatic row erupted between Japan and Russia Wednesday after one of the latter's naval patrols fired on a fishing vessel in disputed waters. One fisherman was killed and three others were in custody after their boat was towed to a port in the Kurile Islands. Reports said they may be charged with poaching in Russian waters. Japan's Foreign Ministry demanded an immediate apology, compensation, and the return of the surviving men and their boat. Russian officials responded by blaming the fishermen for the incident.
For the second time in less than a year, Philippines President Gloria Arroyo appeared to dodge an effort by opponents in Congress to remove her from office. By a vote of 56-24, the Justice Committee of the House of Representatives defeated an impeachment complaint on the question of whether it was "sufficient in substance." The complaint accuses her of corruption, election fraud, constitutional violations, and 19 other abuses. Angry opponents stalked out afterward rather than listen to explanations of why the legislators voted as they did. Last September, the House voted 158-51 against sending an similar impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial.
An oil slick 10 miles long and 20 miles wide has blackened coral reefs, long stretches of coastline, and resorts popular with recreational divers in the central Philippines, reports said Wednesday. Emergency crews struggled to contain leaking bunker fuel from a tanker that sank last Friday off Guimaras Province, one of the nation's poorest. The spill, the worst in Philippines history, also affects the livelihood of about 50,000 people who fish in those waters.