U.S. sees Iran sanctions as a first step
The Obama administration signaled Wednesday that the United States would accept weakened U.N. sanctions against Iran as a way to quickly assemble a broad international coalition against Tehran's nuclear program. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that adoption of a new sanctions resolution by the U.N. Security Council is more vital than the actual measures taken. He said a Security Council resolution "provides a new legal platform" for individual nations or groups such as the European Union to take more stringent action. In that way, the U.N. resolution acts as a "launching pad" for economic strictures that are much tougher than those adopted by the world organization, he said.
U.S. reaches out to new leaders
The Obama administration signaled its support for the new leadership of Kyrgyzstan on Wednesday, sending Robert Blake, the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, to meet with the head of the country's interim government. The diplomatic gesture left deposed President Kurmanbek Bakiyev ever more isolated in a mountain village in the south, where he fled after an uprising last week. He is now trying to arrange a safe exit for his family, as well as himself. Blake met with the new Kyrgyz leader, Roza Otunbayeva. He said he came to "express support for the steps the provisional government has taken to restore democracy" and to offer U.S. aid.
Bystanders among 6 killed in shootout
A gunbattle erupted on the main coast boulevard in the heart of this Pacific resort Wednesday afternoon, killing six people, including a mother and her 8-year-old child. None of the victims appeared to be tourists. A federal police officer died in a shootout with gunmen, but at least three of the dead seemed to have been bystanders caught in the crossfire. Five other people suffered wounds. Federal police said they detained a 26-year-old and said he apparently worked for Edgar Valdez Villarreal, a U.S.-born drug capo who has been engaged in a bloody battle in the Acapulco area with former colleagues in the Beltran-Leyva drug cartel.
Hundreds flee as volcano erupts
A volcano under a glacier in Iceland erupted Wednesday for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, spewing smoke and steam, closing a major road and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. Authorities evacuated 800 residents from around the Eyjafjallajokull glacier as water gushed down the mountainside and rivers rose by up to 10 feet. Iceland's main coastal ring road was closed near the volcano, and workers smashed holes in the highway in a bid to give the rushing water a clear route to the coast and prevent bridges from being swept away.
Court rebuffs gay marriage attempt
Italy's constitutional court has rejected bids to have gay marriages recognized. Couples in the cities of Venice and Trento sought to have their city halls ordered to post formal marriage announcements for homosexual unions, as they do for heterosexual marriages. The judges refused to issue the order. Italian news reports said the judges maintain it is up to lawmakers to recognize gay marriage.