Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates sought to assure US allies in the Middle East that an eventual American withdrawal from Iraq will not leave that country "in chaos." Meeting with Egyptian and Persian Gulf leaders Tuesday, they won no new promises of Arab help for Iraq, according to reports, but Rice said she heard "the right expressions" of continued financial and political support. The US officials also said their two-day mission should not be seen as a shot across the bow of Iran.
Ignoring criticism from members of the US Congress for a lack of accomplishment, Iraq's parliament adjourned until Sept. 4. The date is less than two weeks before lawmakers in Washington are due to receive a critical report on the success of the troop surge and on sectarian reconciliation. But a key Iraqi legislator said "even if we sit next month, there's no guarantee that important business will be done." He blamed Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki for "sending us nothing" on which to debate or vote.
In a show of support for visiting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Russian leaders told him Tuesday that they've "downgraded" ties with Hamas. President Vladimir Putin called Abbas "the legitimate leader" of the Palestinians and pledged that Russia "won't spare an effort to overcome the consequences" of the struggle for supremacy between Hamas and Abbas's Fatah movement.
North Korea extended its "full cooperation" in allowing UN inspectors to monitor the shutdown and sealing of the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the team leader reported Tuesday. Adel Tolba of the International Atomic Energy Agency said he and his colleagues visited all five facilities they were scheduled to inspect and "what we needed to perform was performed." The IAEA is rotating inspection teams while six-nation talks on a schedule for nuclear disarmament by the North take place.
A vote of the UN Security Council was expected at any time Tuesday on authorizing up to 26,000 peacekeepers for Sudan's troubled Darfur region. If approved, the resolution would authorize the new UN force to begin working with African Union peacekeepers who are already in Sudan in October.
Prospects for the rescue of 69 men trapped in a flooded coal mine in central China appeared to improve Tuesday as reports said oxygen and hundreds of gallons of milk were being pumped to them via ventilation pipes. Since milk is not a staple for most Chinese, other nutritional fluids were to be sent down as soon as possible, China Central Television said. The miners were able to reach a dry area that has electricity, the reports said.
A test of the safety of China's massive Three Gorges Dam loomed Tuesday because of relentless rains that were raising the water level behind it faster than was being discharged, the Xinhua news agency said. Eighteen sluice gates were opened Monday, releasing 12.6 million gallons of water per second downstream. But the inflow into the reservoir behind the dam was expected to reach 15 million gallons per second at its peak. Hubei Province, the site of the dam, was on high alert, and shipping around it was halted at locks on the Yangtze River.
More arrests of Army officers in Colombia can be expected as the government acts on information that senior command levels have been infiltrated by drug traffickers and leftist rebels, the defense minister said Monday. Juan Manuel Santos said bribed officers had leaked sensitive crackdown plans to leaders of both groups, helping them to evade capture. The government learned of the situation through files on the computer of a rebel who was killed in a confrontation with security forces.