tampabay.com

Apologize for nuclear claims, U.S. told

By Times Wires
Published February 24, 2008


TEHRAN, Iran   

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on the United States and its allies Saturday to "apologize" to Iran for accusing it of seeking nuclear weapons - a day after the U.N. nuclear watchdog released its latest report on Iran's atomic program.

Ahmadinejad said the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency vindicated Iran and warned that Tehran would take unspecified "reciprocal measures" against any country that imposed additional sanctions against Iran.

The IAEA report said several past questions about Iran's nuclear program had been resolved, but highlighted Tehran's continued refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad said in a televised address to the nation that the best way for the United States and its allies to "compensate for their mistakes" is to "apologize and pay compensation."

JERUSALEM

Israeli missile strike kills 3 Palestinians

Three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli army missile strike in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon, Palestinian medical officials said. It was not immediately clear whether those killed were civilians or combatants. Local witnesses said the three were sitting outdoors, drinking tea and smoking, in an area east of Beit Hanun, near the border with Israel, when they were killed. No militant group immediately claimed them as members.

An Israeli army spokesman said ground forces had attacked a squad that was on its way to fire mortar shells at Israel. "According to our information, those who were hit were armed men," the spokesman said.

BOGOTA, Colombia

Rebels vow to keep holding U.S. captives

Colombian guerrillas vowed Saturday to hold three U.S. captives for "60 years in a jungle prison," because a U.S. court sentenced a fellow rebel to a similar term in their kidnapping.

The three U.S. defense contractors, captured when their plane went down in rebel-held jungles in February 2003, will remain hostages for that time unless U.S. and Colombian officials release captive guerrillas, Ivan Marquez of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, was quoted as saying. The contractors - Marc Gonsalves, Thomas Howes and Keith Stansell - are the longest-held U.S. captives in the world, according to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota.

NICOSIA, Cyprus

Presidential candidate has communist ties

Cyprus could become a rarity among its European Union partners today by electing a communist-rooted president. Dimitris Christofias heads AKEL, a party with Leninist roots and a hammer - albeit without the sickle - as its symbol.

He is in a tight race with conservative former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides for the presidency. The two were within fractions of a percentage point in the Feb. 17 first round, which knocked out incumbent Tassos Papadopoulos, and few pollsters would risk predicting which way Cypriots will vote today.

Elsewhere

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: A bus plunged over a cliff Saturday in southern Saudi Arabia, killing at least 25 people, the state-run Saudi Press Agency reported.

Berlin: Vandals daubed a swastika on one of the slabs that make up the Holocaust memorial in downtown Berlin, police said Saturday.

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka: Two days of fighting between Sri Lankan troops and Tamil Tiger rebels left at least 39 insurgents and a soldier dead, the military said Saturday.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil: A small plane carrying four people crashed in a forest on Saturday, killing all aboard, the local fire department said.

Times wires