An effort to draw North Korea back into six-way negotiations over its nuclear program was hanging in the balance at an Asian security summit Wednesday. Delegates from rival South Korea and China agreed at the conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, to seek discussions with the North on that issue, and the US formally asked North Korea's representatives to join them. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations meeting is the first time all six par-ticipants in earlier rounds of talks have been together since North Korea test-fired seven missiles earlier this month. The North has boycotted the negotiations, which previously have been held in Beijing, since last November. There was no early signal from the North that it would join the Kuala Lumpur discussions, however.
Saddam Hussein, complaining that he'd been taken from a Baghdad hospital against his will, appeared in court Wednesday for the first time since beginning a hunger strike earlier this month. Although chief judge Raouf Abdel-Rahman ultimately cut short Hussein's protests by turning off his microphone, he allowed him to make a statement requesting execution by firing squad if found guilty of crimes against humanity. Hanging, the usual method of execution, is not appropriate for "a military man," Hussein argued. Although the former dictator appointed himself as chief of Iraq's Army, he never was trained or served as a soldier.
Land mines, bombs, and rifles capable of hitting targets at long range were aboard a cargo plane that landed at Somalia's main airport Wednesday, the transitional government alleged. It said the flight had come from neighboring Eritrea, which is believed to be backing the Islamist militia that has seized control of much of the war-torn nation. An Associated Press reporter said he saw militiamen surround the plane and order photographers to leave the area. The incident came as the UN special envoy to Somalia completed a tour of the country and reported that soldiers from Ethiopia were, in fact, supporting the weak official government, but not in numbers that are "important." The Islamists cite the Ethiopian presence as their reason for refusing to participate in peace negotiations with the government.
Saying, "we are not going to allow anybody to expel any of them," an alliance of religious schools in Pakistan refused to hand over five foreign students for deportation by the government. All five have expired visas, and their requests for permission to stay in Pakistan were denied. The government ordered foreigners at the schools, or madrassahs, out of the country after an ex-student turned out to be one of the terrorist bombers who targeted London's subway system last year. The madrassahs, which number in the thousands, have long been seen as breeding grounds for Islamist radicals.
Opening a new front in his bid to force a manual recount of votes in Mexico's disputed July 2 presidential election, leftist candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador sued the nine-member board that organized it. The former mayor of Mexico City also rejected an offer to meet with the apparent winner, conservative Felipe Calderón, although the latter's spokesman said, "our hand [remains] extended." The suit alleges that the Federal Electoral Institute failed in its duty to block campaign ads portraying López Obrador as "a danger" to Mexico because of his leftist views. He also has asked the top electoral court to order a recount by hand of 41 million ballots. The first tally and a computerized recount gave Calderón a 244,000-vote – or 0.6 percent – margin of victory.
Imports of beef produced in the US are expected to be OK'd as soon as Thursday by Japan's government, ending the latest ban because of concerns over so-called mad-cow disease. The move was awaiting only a briefing for officials by inspectors who'd toured packing plants in the US to check whether they meet Japanese guidelines: processing only cattle younger than 20 months and excluding all brain and spinal tissues, which are believed to be at risk of carrying the disease. The ban was reimposed in January, six weeks after being lifted, when spinal bone turned up in a shipment of veal. Japan had been the most lucrative overseas market for US beef until 2003, when the first ban was imposed.