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President Bush 'Disappointed' by Iranian Rejection of Nuclear Offer


BUSH - EUROPE:U.S. President George Bush has expressed disappointment with Iran's rejection of the international package of incentives aimed at halting its nuclear program. Speaking after talks in Paris today with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr. Bush called this a sign to the people of Iran that their leaders are willing to isolate them further. Mr. Sarkozy stressed that the Iranian people deserve better than the impasse into which their leaders are taking them. Mr. Bush also urged Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to halt cooperation with Iran and stop interfering in Lebanon's internal affairs and cease harboring terrorists. He expressed strong backing for creation of a Palestinian state and urged the Syrian leader to help the process.

IRAN - NUCLEAR:The European Union's top diplomat has presented Iran with a package of incentives aimed at persuading Tehran to suspend its controversial nuclear program. A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana says the diplomat handed the incentives proposal to Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki during talks in Tehran today. The package from six world powers includes economic and trade incentives. An Iranian government spokesman told reporters today that Tehran will reject any offer that demands the country halt its uranium enrichment program. He says any such offer cannot be considered. Solana arrived in Tehran Friday on behalf of the European Union, China, France, Germany, Russia, Britain and the United States.

AFGHANISTAN:The U.S. military says a roadside bombing has killed four soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan. A military spokesman says American troops were helping train Afghan police forces in western Farah province today when the bomb exploded. The U.S. military says the blast wounded at least one other coalition soldier. In southern Afghanistan, around the city of Kandahar, Afghan and coalition forces are hunting today for hundreds of prisoners who escaped from the area's main jail late Friday. Taliban militants attacked the prison with explosives and rockets, killing at least 15 security guards. Afghan Deputy Justice Minister Mohammad Qasim Hashimzai says the militants then stormed the compound and helped jailed insurgents escape.

IRAQ:The U.S. military in Iraq says coalition forces have killed two suspected al-Qaida militants and detained 33 others in separate operations in central and northern Iraq. In one incident, a military statement says militants with ties to an al-Qaida in Iraq bombing network opened fire on coalition troops south of Mosul today. It says the troops responded, killing one armed militant and detaining nine others. The military says coalition forces also discovered and destroyed a terrorist hideout in a town southwest of Mosul today. It says the forces killed one suspected militant in a clash at the hideout. In another development, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki says negotiations with the United States on a long-term security agreement have reached a "dead end." But he says talks are ongoing despite what he calls "unacceptable" U.S. demands that infringe on Iraq's sovereignty.

JAPAN - QUAKE:A powerful earthquake struck northern Japan early today, killing at least three people and injuring at least 64. Officials say the seven-point-two magnitude quake was centered in Iwate prefecture, about 400 kilometers north of Tokyo. The quake was followed by at least one strong aftershock. Japan's chief government spokesman (Nobutaka Machimura) told reporters that one of the dead was killed by a landslide, while another died when he ran out of his house and was run over by a truck. A third was killed at a dam construction site that was hit by falling rocks. A small amount of radioactive water leaked in a Tokyo Electric Power Company nuclear plant, but operators said there was no danger to the public.

BURMA - LANDSLIDE:Burma says 11 people were killed Wednesday and Thursday when their homes were engulfed by landslides caused by heavy rain. The state "New Light of Myanmar" newspaper said today that seven men and four women died when their homes collapsed along Yeni creek in central Burma's town of Mogok. Flood waters rose up to one meter after the area received a record 20 centimeters of rain. Mogok, in Burma's Mandalay division, is knows as Ruby Land, and is famed for its rich supply of rubies, sapphires and other precious stones. Burma's ruling military government uses the gems as a key source of income.

PHILIPPINES - US - COURT:The widow of former Philippine ruler Ferdinand Marcos has praised a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against victims of human rights abuses committed under her late husband. Imelda Marcos Friday thanked God for what she said was a triumph for truth and justice and proof that the U.S. justice system works. The Supreme Court Thursday ruled that a Philippine court must decide the case before it can be considered in the United States. Lawyers for the 95-hundred human rights abuse victims denounced the ruling. The lawyers had argued that 35-million dollars held by a U.S. brokerage firm should be given to their clients as part of a prior U.S. court judgment. Marcos set up the account with Merrill Lynch in 1972 using a suspected dummy corporation.

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