Critics were casting doubt on the effectiveness of reported covert actions by Israel to disrupt Iran's nuclear program. The Daily Telegraph (London), citing intelligence sources, said the Jewish state is using assassins as well as "sabotage, front companies, and double agents" to slow the suspected weapons-development activities rather than risk a direct confrontation that might lead to wider war. Such a confrontation also likely wouldn't be sanctioned by the new Obama administration in the US, which has reached out to Iran's government, the report said. But it quoted ex-US counterterrorism chief Vincent Canastraro as saying, "You can't get rid of a couple of people and hope to affect Iran's nuclear capability."

Zimbabwe's new unity cabinet held its first meeting Tuesday as prosecutors were charging a would-be member with illegal possession of firearms and immigration violations. Roy Bennett, a white former coffee farmer and cofounder of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change, is the nominee to be deputy agriculture minister. Tsvangirai said the case "undermines the spirit" of the unity government, but there were no outward signs that it would cause the party to pull out of the power-sharing deal.

The UN and other aid agencies in Somalia were ordered to distribute all the food in their warehouses or leave the country. A spokesman for the Al Shabaab Islamist militia, which now controls virtually all of Somalia, told Reuters of the demand Tuesday. More than one-third of Somalis depend on food aid, but humanitarian agencies operating there say they won't risk the lives of their staffs without security guarantees.

Fifty tons of food and medicines were en route to civilians trapped in Sri Lanka's war zone, the government said Tuesday. Another 50 tons will be shipped "soon," the commissioner of essential services told a news briefing. Thousands of noncombatants reportedly are sandwiched between government forces and the remaining Tamil separatist rebels in a diminishing swathe of jungle along the northeastern coast, and both sides have come under harsh international criticism for ignoring their safety.

A 20-year, $25 billion energy contract was signed in Beijing Tuesday by senior officials of China and Russia as the latter shifted some of its export emphasis away from European customers. The terms call for Russia to supply 300,000 barrels of crude a day in return for loans to cash-strapped oil producer Rosneft and state-owned pipeline operator Transneft. For its part, China, the world's second-largest consumer of oil, has been seeking sources of supply outside the Middle East.

Calm returned to the capital of Equatorial Guinea after government troops fought off an attack on President Teodoro Nguema's residence before dawn Tuesday. Reportedly, Nguema wasn't at home, however, raising questions about whether the incident was a coup attempt. The attackers arrived in the type of fast boats used by militants who target oil installations in nearby Nigeria's delta region. Nguema has ruled since 1979, when he overthrew his uncle. He survived a coup attempt by foreign mercenaries in 2004.

Fifty people were arrested and an unknown number of others were hurt on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe after angry strikers fought with police trying to reopen a barricaded road Monday. The protesters hurled rocks and other objects; the police responded with tear gas. Guadeloupe and its sister island, Martinique, have been the scene of weeks of protests over the high cost of living, and negotiations over pay increases between the strikers and their employers have stalled.

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