WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales called Tuesday for requiring federal judges to adhere to guidelines that set mandatory minimum prison sentences, saying there is evidence of growing disparity in jail terms since a landmark Supreme Court ruling. Under the ruling, the guidelines now are only advisory. Legislation in Congress would set mandatory minimums for many types of crime.
ULSAN, South Korea -- The International Whaling Commission upheld its nearly two-decade-old ban on commercial whaling Tuesday, dealing a setback to Japan and other pro-whaling nations. Japan says it must kill whales to study them. It claims whale stocks have sufficiently recovered since 1986 to allow the resumption of limited hunts.
MOSCOW -- A top Vatican envoy was in Moscow Tuesday for talks to pursue Pope Benedict XVI's drive for better relations with the Russian Orthodox Church. Cardinal Walter Kasper, who heads the Vatican's office for relations with other Christians, arrived late Monday to spend three days in Moscow. He is set to meet with Metropolitan Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church's foreign relations department. Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II will not meet with Kasper. Alexy said his visit to Russia would be possible only after the two churches resolve their longtime differences.
JERUSALEM -- Israeli and Palestinian leaders failed Tuesday to resolve "all the basic issues" facing them at their first summit since a February cease-fire was declared, the Palestinian prime minister said. The summit with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was "difficult" and "did not live up to our expectations," Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia said. The meeting was meant to step up coordination of Israel's planned Gaza withdrawal, which is to begin in less than two months.
WASHINGTON -- The Senate voted Tuesday to conduct an inventory of offshore oil and gas resources, including in areas that have been off-limits to drilling for nearly a quarter- century. Opponents called it a prelude to eventual gas development in areas now under a drilling ban. Proponents of the drilling inventory argued that the country needs to know more specifically what offshore oil and gas resources might be available in future years.
--From wire reports
Afghanistan urges Pakistan to do more to combat militants
KABUL, Afghanistan -- Afghanistan urged neighboring Pakistan on Tuesday to crack down on militants hiding in its territory, a day after it was revealed that Afghan intelligence agents scuttled a plot by three Pakistanis to assassinate the U.S. ambassador. Presidential spokesman Jawed Ludin said Islamabad wasn't doing enough to fight militants and that there would never be peace in Afghanistan until the two nations "join hands together to fight terrorism. At least 280 rebels and 29 U.S. troops have been killed since March. In the latest fighting, three U.S. troops and an Afghan army soldier were slightly wounded in separate bomb blasts Monday in Khost province, which is also near the Pakistani border, a U.S. military statement said. Afghan officials say privately they believe some elements of the Pakistani army and intelligence network are helping Taliban and al-Qaida fighters. Pakistan vehemently denies the charges. Officials boast that they have stationed tens of thousands of troops along the border and arrested more than 700 al-Qaida suspects.