Official signals more talks with U.S.
TEHRAN — Iran’s foreign minister said yesterday his country would be open to holding further talks with the U.S. over Iraq’s security, while also criticizing the U.S. for not having a “plan to overcome the current crisis,” state-run media reported yesterday.
The U.S. and Iran held groundbreaking ambassador-level talks on May 28 in Baghdad, which Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said had “revealed very interesting points,” according to the Web site of Iran’s state broadcasting company.
Mr. Mottaki said the talks could be held after assessing the results of last month’s meeting.
Police crack pedophile ring
LONDON — British police, with aid from U.S. investigators, have shattered a global Internet pedophile ring, rescuing 31 children and rounding up more than 700 suspects worldwide, authorities said yesterday.
About 200 suspects are based in Britain, said the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Center, a government agency. Of the 31 children, some only a few months old, more than 15 were in Britain, the center said.
Officials said that the United States, Canada and Australia were Britain’s main partners in the investigation, which involved agencies from 35 countries.
Investigators with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said they could not immediately comment on the arrests because the U.S. investigation, spanning at least 12 states, is ongoing.
Report: Pyongyang will shut reactor
SEOUL — North Korea plans to seal its nuclear reactor, the source of weapons-grade plutonium, in the second half of next month, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified North Korean diplomatic source as saying yesterday.
Despite more than two months of delay in beginning the dismantling of the North’s atom-bomb program, it would still be possible to complete the nuclear disarmament of the communist state by the end of the year, U.S. nuclear officials said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, said yesterday a senior delegation would visit the North next week to discuss a return of its inspectors to monitor Pyongyang’s plans.
Judge suspends first CIA trial
MILAN — The first trial involving the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program was suspended by a judge yesterday until the country’s highest court rules on an Italian government challenge that the case was built on classified evidence.
A ruling in the government’s favor could scuttle the case. The Bush administration has refused to cooperate.
The Italian government asked the Constitutional Court to throw out the indictments against the 26 American defendants, all but one identified by prosecutors as CIA agents. They are accused of kidnapping an Egyptian terrorism suspect from a Milan street four years ago.
Departing U.S. envoy slams Mugabe rule
BULAWAYO — Zimbabwe’s economic crisis and world-record inflation should spell the downfall of President Robert Mugabe’s government, the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Harare said yesterday.
“We are closer to seeing change in Zimbabwe today from within than at any time since independence,” Ambassador Christopher Dell told journalists in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo.
Mr. Dell, in the country’s second city before his departure to Afghanistan, has been an outspoken critic of Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled the former British colony since independence in 1980.
Fresh attacks roil Palestinian camp
BEIRUT — Fierce fighting erupted yesterday at a besieged Palestinian refugee camp as Lebanese troops resumed bombardment of al Qaeda-inspired militants barricaded inside. Three Lebanese soldiers were killed, a senior military official said.
Troops, backed by heavy artillery and tank fire, blasted suspected hide-outs of the Fatah Islam militants inside the Nahr el-Bared camp on the outskirts of the northern port city of Tripoli, as the battle against the militants entered its fifth week, witnesses said.
Meanwhile in southern Lebanon, an explosion killed two persons at Ein el-Hilweh, Lebanon’s largest Palestinian camp, as members of another Islamic militant group tried to prepare a bomb, Lebanese security officials said.
From wire dispatches and staff reports
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