Shiite and Sunni Muslim leaders in Iraq sparred verbally over postponing the Jan. 30 national election, but senior government officials insisted the vote would take place "on time" because to delay it would only encourage terrorists. Influential Sunnis said Saturday that a six-month delay would allow time to make polling places safe and to persuade some of their clerics to abandon their call for a boycott. But Shiites called the Jan. 30 date "nonnegotiable." Meanwhile, in Mosul, US and Iraqi forces arrested 43 suspected terrorists, but the number of people found murdered there rose to at least 50 in the last 10 days - most of them supporters of the interim government.
Under pressure, negotiators for Iran dropped their demand that almost two dozen centrifuges be exempted from an agreement to suspend the enrichment of uranium, a Western diplomat close to the situation said. Earlier, the governments of Britain, France, and Germany gave Iran until Monday to freeze the key areas of its nuclear program or they'd no longer stand in the way of efforts to refer it to the UN Security Council for possible economic sanctions. But in what appeared to be a conflicting report, the Associated Press said Iran's Foreign Ministry would not yield on its demand for exemptions and wasn't worried about the possibility of sanctions.
A majority of members of parliament in Ukraine voted to declare last week's presidential runoff invalid, and the chief of the national elections said he was not opposed to a new vote. But outgoing President Leonid Kuchma said negotiations between representatives of Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich and opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko to resolve the crisis were going badly and, "No one can say whether [a compromise] will be found at all." The Supreme Court Monday is scheduled to hear a complaint by Yuschenko that the runoff was fraudulent.
Emergency crews were racing against time to try to reach at least 166 men trapped inside a coal mine in central China and unable to communicate with people on the surface. Another 127 men escaped when an explosion tore through the mine in Shanxi Province early Sunday. Mines in China generally are considered the world's most dangerous, and the latest accident has the potential to be the worst there so far this century, reports said.