While some provisions of the package offered to Iran to halt enrichment of uranium are acceptable, the government will not negotiate over its "obvious right" to continue that work, a spokesman said Monday. The government has yet to respond formally to the offer, which was extended last week, and senior US officials said it must not be allowed to "consider these terms indefinitely [while] just continuing nuclear activities." In Vienna, where the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency was opening a board meeting, its chief said Iran still is resisting investigation into the full scale of its nuclear program but that he believed "the way forward lies through dialogue and mutual accommodation." Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said his government "will not tolerate" nuclear weapons in Iranian hands.
Hamas decided against asking the Palestinian parliament for a declaration Monday that President Mahmoud Abbas's plan for a referendum on recognizing Israel's right to exist is illegal. A Hamas spokesman said such a motion would be delayed until next Tuesday because stopping the proposed July 26 referendum through dialogue "will be better." For his part, Abbas is considered unlikely to regard passage of the motion, if it comes, binding on his powers.
A successor to Abu Musab al- Zarqawi was announced Monday by Al Qaeda in Iraq, but not by his given name. A website used by the terrorist group called the new leader Abu Hamza al- Muhajer, which in Arabic means "immigrant" and suggests that he is not Iraqi. Meanwhile, US and other coalition forces attacked a suspected terrorist hideout Monday in the same area where Zarqawi was killed. A spokesman said the coalition force had come under machine-gun fire and that nine occupants died when it retaliated.
Efforts to bring together once more the coalition government that emerged from Ukraine's 2004 Orange Revolution appeared almost certain to end in failure. The parties face a self-imposed deadline Wednesday to present an agreement to parliament. But President Viktor Yushchenko's Our Ukraine Party said Monday that further negotiations with the Socialists were "pointless" since the latter would not give up demands that their leader fill the post of Speaker. Ex-Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and her party were the third major partner in the coalition. She has been promised her former job again if the negotiations somehow can be salvaged.
Hundreds of communist rebels and their supporters stand to be released from jail in Nepal after the new government dropped the cases against them Monday and scrapped the anti-terrorism laws under which they were charged. The laws were strictly enforced by King Gyan-endra before he gave in to mass pro-democracy protests in April. The move was seen as clearing the way for historic peace negotiations between the two sides. Preliminary talks have been held, but the rebels demand that all prisoners be freed before they will engage in full-fledged discussions.
Up to 30 inches of rain were predicted for parts of Cuba as Alberto, the season's first named tropical storm lashed the island Monday. News footage showed extensive flooding, and civil defense teams evacuated a reported 25,000 people from low-lying areas. Cuba's vital tobacco industry also appeared vulnerable to damage.
A driver whose van was nudged into the path of a high-speed train in central Israel fled in time Monday, but the resulting collision caused the locomotive and three cars to derail. At least five people were killed and 77 others were hurt. Seven more were trapped in the wreckage. Witnesses said the van stopped at a grade crossing, but another vehicle hit it from behind, pushing it onto the tracks.