President Bush pressed Iran to immediately begin negotiations on its nuclear program and warned Tehran that delay would bring consequences. In New York on Tuesday for the UN General Assembly meeting, Bush met with French President Jacques Chirac, who is balking at the US drive to sanction Iran for not freezing uranium enrichment. If Tehran fails to suspend its nuclear program, the US will aim to curb its access to civilian technologies that might help it build atomic weapons, administration officials said Tuesday.

Army Gen. John Abizaid, who oversees the Iraq war, said Tuesday he did not expect any reductions in US troops levels until at least the end of spring 2007, as the current force of 147,000 tries to prevent Iraq from falling into civil war.

The Labor Department reported that wholesale prices edged up 0.1 percent last month, a modest rise that eased concerns about inflation. The fall of gasoline prices helped dampen the increase by offsetting a jump in food costs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has discovered a 400- foot tunnel running from Calexico, Calif., to Mexicali, Mexico, authorities announced Monday. The tunnel, about 20 feet underground, was equipped with lighting fixtures and supported by wooden beams.

Princeton University became the second elite school to drop its early admissions program Monday, following Harvard in a move they say will benefit disadvantaged students and reduce anxiety. Early admissions policies have been criticized for informally discriminating against less-sophisticated applicants.

New York remained the safest of the nation's 10 largest cities in 2005, with about one crime reported for every 37 people, according to FBI statistics. Dallas was at the bottom of the list, with a crime reported for every 12 people. The annual FBI report showed a 1.2 percent drop in crime nationwide, but a 2.3 percent rise in violent crime, which includes rape, murder, robbery, and aggravated assault.

President Bush was expected to name former USAID administrator Andrew Natsios to be his special envoy to Darfur, Sudan. Before retiring from the administration in 2005, Natsios was the special humanitarian coordinator for Sudan. In June 2004, he called Darfur "the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today."

A panel of scientists strongly endorsed NASA's plans to return to the moon, saying in a report Tuesday that lunar exploration will open the way toward broader studies of Earth and the solar system. Two years ago, President Bush called on NASA to devote $12 billion over five years to sending missions to the moon by 2020 – probably aboard the proposed Orion crew exploration vehicle – and eventually landing on Mars.

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