Iran shrugged off a plea by Russia's Foreign Ministry that it comply with UN demands to limit its nuclear program after Monday's passage of new sanctions against the Islamic republic. On the other hand, objections by Russia and China caused the International Atomic Energy Agency to drop plans for a resolution that would apply more pressure on Iran on top of the latest sanctions. Sources quoted the opponents as saying the IAEA "doesn't need to compete" with the UN Security Council.
Feuding between Russia and Ukraine over the flow of natural gas appeared to be coming to a head. The former's gas utility warned that it "reserves the right" to divert fuel sent by pipeline to western Europe for its own needs if there's a further cut in its supply. Gazprom, the Russian monopoly, reduced shipments to Ukraine by 25 percent Monday and threatened another 25 percent cut by Tuesday night unless Ukraine resumed negotiations over payment for supplies already received.
At least two soldiers were reported dead in fighting Tuesday between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. The ex-Soviet republics have observed an uneasy truce since 1994 after an estimated 35,000 people died in a war to end Azeri rule over the majority-Armenian enclave. But tensions have risen due to parallels with the declaration of independence in Kosovo. Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said his government was buying "military machinery and ammunition ... to liberate" Nagorno-Karabakh.
OPEC sought to rule out an increase in production that would ease record-high prices for future deliveries of crude oil. On European markets, futures prices retreated to $102 a barrel at midday Tuesday after soaring to within a few cents of $104 Monday. Cartel president Chakib Kheilil of Algeria told reporters in Vienna, where members were gathering for a scheduled meeting, that any increase in production would only "meet a demand that doesn't exist."
Eighty-seven more members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in raids across Egypt, bringing the two-day total to 130, according to the group's web site. A police spokesman put the number Tuesday at 80. The raids coincided with the first day of registration for candidates in the April 8 city council elections. Councillors hold little power but become important in endorsing candidates who want to run as independents for the nation's presidency.
Protests against a planned chemical plant were in their fifth day (above) in a southern China county despite the arrival of police reinforcements. Witnesses disputed claims by local government officials that the opposition has been peaceful, saying police had beaten participants, who hurled rocks in return. A dozen protesters were hurt and at least 20 others were arrested, a witness said. Dong-shan in Fujian Province was chosen as the new site for the plant after residents of a city 50 miles away successfully campaigned against it.
Doctors treating critically wounded East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta said he "is now quite independent in his daily activities." Ramos-Horta, who was shot in a Feb. 11 assassination attempt "is able to walk" and has met with senior Australian and UN officials. A spokesman for the hospital in Darwin, Australia, said the president also asked the Timorese government to look after the family of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who died in the assassination attempt.