A new round of six-way negotiations over North Korea's nuclear weapons program opened Monday, aimed at setting a precise timetable for disarmament. Under terms of the deal reached in the negotiations last month, the North has 60 days to shut down its Yongbyon reactor and plutonium processing facilities in return for economic aid and possible normalizing of relations with the US and Japan. The new talks were made possible after the US and the North resolved a dispute over the freeing of $25 million in funds that had been placed off limits in a Macao bank. They'll be transferred to a bank in Beijing and may be used "solely for the betterment of the North Korean people," senior US officials said.
Sectarian killing in Iraq "is over," Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told a TV interview Monday. But his claim was undermined by an explosion inside a Shiite mosque in Baghdad that killed 12 people. Twelve more died in a series of blasts in Kirkuk. A new poll commissioned by ABC News, USA Today, the BBC, and other media organizations found only an 18 percent level of confidence among respondents in the ability of Iraqi and US forces to end the violence.
Hamas claimed responsibility for wounding an employee of an Israeli electric utility as he worked near a border crossing to the Gaza Strip, breaking the truce that the militant organization declared last November. "Our strikes ... will continue," a Hamas statement said. The shooting came two days after the seating of a new Hamas-Fatah Palestinian unity government. Results of a spot survey indicated that a majority of Israelis disagreed with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's decision not to talk with the new government, but the finding was made public prior to the shooting.
Muslim separatists fired on a truck carrying Buddhist women to work in southern Thailand Monday, killing three of them. The incident was the second apparent act of retaliation in two days for an attack on a Muslim school in which three students died. Police say they suspect separatists themselves of staging that attack to deepen anger at Buddhists and symbols of government authority, a factor that appeared to be underscored when demonstrators outside the school kept investigators away. Buddhists held a counterprotest, warning that, "If the authorities can't do anything to make it safer here, [we] may have to take the matter into [our] own hands."
A teenager was killed and five guards were hurt when a terrorist exploded a car bomb as a US Embassy motorcade was passing in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, the first in the capital since December. Ambassador Ronald Neumann was not in the convoy, all of whose vehicles were damaged significantly. The Taliban has warned of a major offensive with the onset of spring, specifically targeting foreigners.
Another leading opposition figure in Zimbabwe was hospitalized with severe head injuries after being beaten as he tried to leave the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said. News photos of MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa confirmed that account. Chamisa had intended to fly to Brussels Sunday for meetings with European Union officials when he was attacked by police in a crackdown against opponents of President Robert Mugabe.
In cities across Pakistan, five more judges resigned Monday, deepening the public relations problems of President Pervez Musharraf for his removal of Supreme Court Chief Justice Mohammad Chaudhry. Musharraf accused Chaudhry of abusing his authority. Lawyers in Lahore, Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar, and Rawalpindi claimed to be on strike or said they'd walk out Wednesday in a new protest against Musharraf.
Methane gas exploded in a coal mine in Siberia Monday, killing at least 25 men and injuring five others. Roughly 170 miners were at work when the blast occurred and, at last word, 68 had been evacuated safely.