IRAN-NUCLEAR:An Iranian official says Iran will continue to enrich uranium itself if talks with world powers about its nuclear program fail. The spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Agency (Ali Shirzadian) made the announcement while speaking to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) Monday, just hours before talks in Vienna about Iran's controversial nuclear program were set to resume.
The discussions among representatives from Iran, Russia, France, the
U.S. and the International Atomic Energy Agency are expected to focus
on a proposal to have Iran ship uranium to Russia and France for
conversion to reactor fuel.
AFGHANISTAN: The U.N.-backed commission investigating reports of fraud in
Afghanistan's controversial presidential election is expected to
release its highly-anticipated findings Monday. A spokesman for the independent panel said the report would be released late in the afternoon in Kabul (1230 UTC). Preliminary results indicate President Hamid Karzai leads with 54 percent of the total. But the Electoral Complaints Commission (ECC)
could throw out enough fraudulent ballots so that Mr. Karzai's total
dips below 50 percent, most likely forcing a runoff with top challenger
Senior foreign officials visiting Kabul in recent days have urged Mr. Karzai to accept the panel's verdict.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan's military says troops are continuing to hit Taliban targets
in South Waziristan as the offensive entered its third day Monday.
Army officers and Taliban spokesmen have claimed early victories in the
fighting. But the accounts have not been independently verified because
the army is blocking access to the battlefield. Witnesses say thousands of people have fled the region in recent days.
Many schools across Pakistan are closed this week because of security
concerns. In Islamabad Monday, U.S. Senator John Kerry and U.S. commander General
David Petraeus met with senior Pakistani civilian and military
GATES-ASIA PREVIEW: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates will attend a military
change-of-leadership ceremony in the Pacific island state of Hawaii
Monday before embarking on a weeklong visit to Asia. Gates arrived Sunday evening in Hawaii, where he will preside over the
ceremony passing control of the U.S. Pacific Command from Admiral
Timothy Keating to Admiral Robert Willard. He then moves on to a series of high-level meetings in Japan and South
Korea, to ask those countries for continued support of the war in
Afghanistan. Defense officials say the secretary's visit to Tokyo is an opportunity
to get to know Japan's new leaders. The Pentagon press secretary (Geoff Morrell) says
Gates will also discuss the new government's decision to withdraw two
ships that served as refueling stops for vessels supplying the
international effort in Afghanistan.
ASIA-STORM: Officials in the Philippines are deploying rescue workers and disaster
relief supplies in preparation for a new storm approaching the country,
still reeling from two recent typhoons.
Weather forecasters say Typhoon Lupithas winds of 175 kilometers per
hour, with gusts of 210 kph. The storm is expected to hit the main
island of Luzon Thursday. The Philippines has not yet recovered from
typhoons Ketsana and Parma that hit in the past few weeks.
Those two storms killed more than 850 people. Close to 300,000 people
are still in temporary shelters.
The World Health Organization says the situation in the flood-stricken
country is worse than expected, with epidemics breaking out and
thousands of people at risk for illness or death.