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Relations deteriorated further between the European Union and the government of Turkey, with the recommendation that membership talks with the Muslim-majority nation be suspended "partially." Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan blasted the move as "unacceptable," and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer vetoed legislation – required by the EU – that would strengthen the property rights of non-Muslim minorities. The recommendation is not final; the bloc's 25 leaders must still vote on it at their Dec. 14-15 summit.

Without offering details, state news agencies in Iran said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would release an open letter to the American people Wednesday through the nation's ambassador to the UN. Analysts said such a move would be seen as an attempt to go over the heads of the Bush administration. In May, the hard-line leader made headlines by sending a rambling, 18-page letter to President Bush – the first official communication with a US administration since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran. It contained no specific proposals and was criticized in Washington for not addressing Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program. Earlier this month, Ahmadinejad told reporters in Iran that "many American people asked me to talk to them in order to explain the views" of his government.

Amid growing suspicions over the poisoning death last week of a former Russian spy in Britain, onetime Premier Yegor Gaidar was rushed to a Moscow hospital in intensive care from a conference in Ireland. Aides said there were no early indications of foul play, although London's Financial Times newspaper said it appeared he, too, had been poisoned. Gaidar's daughter, Maria, is a political activist and vociferous opponent of the Kremlin and President Vladimir Putin. Anatoly Chubais, who served with Gaidar under President Boris Yeltsin and who himself was targeted for assassination last year, also linked his former colleague's illness to the death of ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko and, earlier, the murder of journalist and Kremlin critic Anna Politskovskaya.


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