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World in brief

Iran balks at October nuclear deadline

Compiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 12, 2003

VIENNA - Iran warned Thursday it will not accept an October deadline to prove its nuclear aims are peaceful. But support grew at a key U.N. atomic agency meeting for that timeframe, which could set the stage for Security Council action against Tehran.

Diplomats said that by late Thursday substantially more than 20 members of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors indicated they would vote in favor of the timeframe, with an unknown number of likely abstentions.

Russia, whose vote carries significant political weight, initially opposed the concept of a deadline but now was leaning toward abstaining instead of opposing, the diplomats told the Associated Press. China, another important board nation, also was likely to abstain, they said.

The second day of informal talks on how to plumb Iran's nuclear activities continued outside the board meeting after supporters of the deadline asked for more time to get additional backing for their stance.

The meeting, suspended on Wednesday, was expected to reconvene today to vote on the timeframe - specifically, a U.S.-backed resolution urging Iran essentially to disprove by October that it has a covert nuclear weapons program.

"We will oppose that," chief Iranian delegate Ali Akbar Salehi said. "Nobody is in a position to impose a deadline on a sovereign country."

Libya agrees to increase Pan Am 103 payouts

Libya agreed on Thursday to increase compensation to the families of the victims of a terrorist attack on Pan Am Flight 103 in 1989, clearing the way for passage of a resolution to lift U.N. sanctions.

The Security Council is expected to hold a final vote today, after a vote planned for Tuesday was blocked by France.

"France naturally has no more opposition to the U.N. Security Council voting for the lifting of sanctions against Libya as quickly as possible in New York," Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin of France said.

No details of the accord were released.

Berlusconi refutes his quotes about Mussolini

ROME - Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi was quoted Thursday as saying Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini never killed anyone and only sent people away on vacations in internal exile, a claim that distressed Jewish leaders.

The premier later explained he had not intended to re-evaluate Mussolini's place in history and had only been responding to a comparison between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Mussolini's Italy made by his interviewer.

The published remarks appeared in London's conservative weekly the Spectator and the Italian daily La Voce di Rimini.

"Little Mermaid' toppled

COPENHAGEN, Denmark - The famed statue of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid, one of Copenhagen's biggest tourist draws, has been vandalized . . . again.

The oft-attacked 5.5-foot-high statue was toppled from its stone base at the entrance of the Copenhagen harbor early Thursday.


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