World briefs 5/10/05

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

South American, Arab leaders attend summit

BRASILIA, Brazil -- South American and Arab leaders gathering for a summit are expected to overwhelmingly adopt a declaration condemning Israel's occupation of Palestinian territory, according to a draft of the document approved by ministers Monday. The draft declaration to be signed during the first Summit of South American-Arab Countries demands that Israel disband settlements "including those in East Jerusalem" and retreat to its 1967 borders before the Mideast war. The draft lashes out at U.S. economic sanctions against Syria and denounces terrorism. But it asserts the right of people "to resist foreign occupation in accordance with the principles of international legality and in compliance with international humanitarian law."

Spaniards jubilant over royal pregnancy

MADRID, Spain -- Spain rejoiced Monday in the news that Princess Letizia was pregnant, but a key question was unanswered: Will it be a boy or a girl? A boy would be second in line for the throne, after 37-year-old Felipe, who is King Juan Carlos' third and only son. If the baby is a girl, however, she would inherit the throne after any sons Felipe and Letizia might have in the future, as the Spanish constitution allows a female heir to the throne only if she has no brothers. The Spanish Royal Palace announced Sunday that the 32-year-old princess, a former anchorwoman for Spanish national television, was due in November.

Iran confirms converting raw uranium into gas

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran confirmed on Monday that it converted 37 tons of raw uranium into gas, its first acknowledgment of advances made in the production process for enriched uranium before it formally suspended nuclear activity in November under international pressure. The announcement, which means Tehran is in a position to quickly start enriching uranium if it lifts the suspension, comes as European negotiators are trying to seal an agreement to ensure that Iran's nuclear program does not produce weapons.

Blair faces calls from party leaders to resign

LONDON -- Prime Minister Tony Blair faced calls from Labour Party legislators Monday to step down, just days after securing a historic third term that was dampened by a sharply reduced majority in Parliament. The emerging schism in the governing Labour Party reflects the nation's unease over Blair's decision to go to war in Iraq and the possibility of a leadership challenge well before he serves out his term. There were no signs that Blair would be bullied into quitting. After a Cabinet reshuffle on Friday, he reorganized his junior ministers on Monday. He would address legislators in special meeting on Wednesday.

Christian leaders meet to weigh global challenges

ATHENS, Greece -- Christian leaders, theologians and religious activists from around the world gathered Monday for a meeting to assess some of the most serious challenges for the faith, such as growing rifts between churches and African congregations ravaged by AIDS. The last time the World Council of Churches staged such a conference was in Brazil nine years ago, when the agenda was heavy with issues about preserving cultural identity and Christian missionary expansion in the former East Bloc. Now -- in one of the ancient sites of Christianity -- the planned discussions highlight some new concerns, including growing rifts among Christians over issues such as same-sex unions, the role of gay pastors and women's contributions to worship. Also high on the list: ways to control AIDS and HIV in Africa and promoting interfaith dialogue with mainstream Muslims to offset the influence of Islamic extremists.

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