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Iraqi and US troops began a new sweep Tuesday to rid troubled Diyala Province of Al Qaeda elements. The area north of Baghdad is considered the last important haven for terrorists near the capital and thus one of the most difficult to control because, among other factors, it borders Iran. Iraqi forces are leading the campaign, a senior US commander said, because they are better prepared now than for previous operations.

"Big powers," such as the US, "are going down," Iran's hard-line president said in the keynote speech to the Nonaligned Movement conference in Tehran Tuesday. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad complained that "rich and powerful countries" exercise an inordinate influence on global affairs but suggested that "a new, promising era" is just ahead. In an interview with NBC News Monday night, Ahmadinejad said Iran would respond positively if the US adopts a genuinely new approach to his country. Dismissing American concerns about Iran's nuclear program, he added: "Nuclear bombs belong to the 20th century [whereas] we are living in a new century."


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