The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council say they are in agreement that the dispute over Iran's nuclear program should go before the full, 15-member council. Today's (Tuesday's) joint statement by the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China drew immediate criticism from Tehran, which says any move to bring the nuclear standoff before the Security Council would mean
"the end of diplomacy" on the issue.
Iran has previously threatened to break off all cooperation with the U.N. nuclear agency and resume uranium enrichment -- the most sensitive phase of the atomic fuel cycle -- if the Security Council steps into the dispute.
The United States, European Union, Russia and the United Nations have called on the Palestinian Islamic group Hamas to renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and accept previous agreements and obligations. The Mideast Quartet members also stressed that international donors should continue to aid the Palestinians until a new government is formed. But they said it is "inevitable" that future aid to the Palestinian Authority will depend on its commitment to non-violence, recognition of Israel, adherence to previous deals and acceptance of the internationally backed "road map" peace plan. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan read a statement on behalf of the Quartet after Monday's meeting in London, where they discussed the implications of the surprise Hamas victory in last week's Palestinian legislative elections
Al-Qaida's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri,
is taunting the United States for its failure to kill him in an attack in Pakistan earlier this month. In a videotaped message (first seen on Monday), al-Zawahiri denounces President Bush harshly and threatens that U.S. policies will bring the American people future "catastrophes and tragedies." Al-Jazeera (Arabic-language) television, which broadcast (excerpts of) the Zawahiri tape, says the terrorist leader also is threatening violence against Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.
Burma's military government has adjourned the country's constitution-drafting convention today (Tuesday) after almost two months of deliberations. Some delegates said the chairman of the convention, (Lieutenant General Thein Sein -- a member of the ruling junta) in his closing remarks, said the convention will resume at the end of the year. However, the French news agency reports that other delegates said the talks would be resumed in May. More than one thousand government-selected delegates are taking part in the effort to draft a constitution.
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