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 officials.
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.