A daily summary of top stories around the world.

Iran stepped up the pressure on the British government over the standoff concerning 15 sailors and marines taken captive last month. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called Britain and its allies "arrogant" for refusing to admit to an incursion into Iranian waters. Hundreds of students pelted Britain's diplomatic mission in Tehran with rocks and firecrackers, demanding its closure. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett urged Iran to resolve the crisis peacefully and said her government was open to dialogue. She expressed regret over the situation but did not issue the apology sought by Iran.

Citing intelligence sources, a Russian news agency said the US is preparing for a missile strike against Iranian nuclear facilities as soon as Friday. The Bush administration didn't comment on the report, but Israel's chief of military intelligence said Iranian defensive preparations are under way "for the possibility of war in the summer."

Fresh from an emergency meeting of fellow African leaders in which he won vows of support, hard-line Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe also picked up his party's endorsement for reelection next year. Party leaders agreed further to bring forward the voting for a new parliament by two years and to increase the number of seats in both the lower and upper house. Mugabe's counterparts at the regional summit agreed to promote "dialogue" between his allies and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.

An estimated 90,000 Ukrainians held counterrallies over the power struggle between bitter rivals Viktor Yanukovych and Viktor Yushchenko. The larger crowd demanded that President Yush-chenko dissolve parliament and schedule a new election. Yush-chenko accuses pro-Russian Prime Minister Yanukovych of breaking a promise not to try amassing more power by cherry-picking legislators from parties that support the president. Yanukovych has 260 allies in the 450-seat legislature. With 40 more, his side can override any veto by Yushchenko.

One of the most revered Serbian Orthodox monasteries in Kosovo was damaged in a rocket attack over the weekend as members of the UN Security Council prepared to take up a plan that would give the volatile province supervised independence under an ethnic Albanian majority. Those discussions are scheduled to open Tuesday. Ultimately, Serbian President Vojislav Kostunica said, "Our people know and feel" that Russia will veto any plan for Kosovo that fails to "preserve its structural integrity."

Although the five-year-old cease-fire agreement between Sri Lanka's government and Tamil rebels essentially exists only on paper, the latter said it must form the basis for any new negotiations. Otherwise, a spokesman said, "the implication is that [the government] has declared full-scale war." President Mahinda Rajapakse offered last week to meet the rebels at any time to discuss a halt to almost daily incidents of violence. By Sunday, however, his office was denying a published report that he's considering a referendum on formal withdrawal from the 2002 cease-fire.

Six former communist rebels were sworn in Sunday as members of Nepalese Prime Minister G.P. Koirala's cabinet. The ceremony capped the peace accord of last November in which the rebels agreed to halt their campaign to oust the monarchy in return for joining the government. Rebel leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal said the Communist Party now would work to ensure that the national election in June "will be free and fair."

At least seven people have died and authorities said 38,000 others have been forced to evacuate their homes because of severe flooding in Argentina. Hardest hit: Santa Fe Province near the border with Uruguay, where heavy nonstop rain has fallen for five straight days.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to World
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today