Communist North Korea has offered exclusive rights to its deposits of natural uranium to Russia, a respected newspaper reported Sunday. Japan's Tokyo Shimbun, citing unidentified Russian sources, said the offer is contingent on the Kremlin's "open" support for the North Korean position once six-way talks on its nuclear weapons program resume. No date has been set so far for those negotiations, which also will include the US, Japan, China, and South Korea. The newspaper said Russia has sought since 2002 to reach a deal to import North Korean uranium, which it would refine and then sell as reactor fuel to third countries.

Indications that Fidel Castro may never return to power in Cuba were said to be growing after he again failed to put in an appearance on the final day of ceremonies making his 80th birthday. A massive military parade in Havana also was timed to the 50th anniversary of the communist revolution that Castro led. The ceremonies Saturday were presided over by his brother, Raul, who called for negotiations with the US to resolve their long-standing dispute. Fidel Castro has not been seen in public since undergoing major surgery in late July.

The transitional government of Somalia was effectively encircled Sunday after the Islamic Courts Union (UIC) declared itself in control of a town that offers access to a vital bridge to the Indian Ocean. An estimated 200 UIC fighters were patrolling the town, and witnesses said many of its residents had fled because of reports that government troops backed by two Ethiopian battalions had been sent to recapture it. The UN Security Council is expected to take up a draft resolution Monday that would authorize a regional force – not including Ethiopians – to protect the government.

Nine police investigators were reported on their way from Britain to Moscow Sunday to question persons of interest in the poisoning death of exiled former KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko. Home Secretary John Reid said his government would follow leads in the case wherever they point, "inside or outside Britain." Before his death, Litvinenko accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering the attack. The matter has strained relations between the two governments, although the Kremlin has pledged its full cooperation in the probe. Meanwhile, Litvinenko's widow, Marina, also reportedly tested positive for polonium 210, the agent used in the poisoning, as did his last known contact, Italian Mario Scaramella.

"No one should be frightened of what's going to happen in the next couple of days," Fijian Army chief Frank Bainimarama said Sunday, amid reports that he'll act to topple the government as early as this morning. He spoke after Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase failed to meet a Friday deadline to agree to the military's demands, instead scheduling a cabinet meeting for Tuesday to discuss the "latest and ever-changing" terms. Among them: ordering an end to the possible lodging of sedition charges against Bainimarama.

A national calamity was declared in the Philippines Sunday after another typhoon battered the country, the fourth in three months. Driving rain and winds as high as 140 m.p.h. loosened soil on the slopes of Mt. Mayon, an active volcano, late last week, sending heavy mudslides onto nearby villages. At least 607 people were killed or were reported missing, and Red Cross officials said casualties could reach 1,000.

Rescue crews struggled to reach passengers still trapped inside a train after an overhead pedestrian bridge collapsed onto it at a station in eastern India Saturday. At least 34 people were killed and 17 others were hurt, reports said. The bridge, dating to the colonial era, was being demolished. The chief minister of Bihar State called the accident "preventable."

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