Calling America's military presence in the Persian Gulf unjustifiable, Iran's navy commander says his forces will begin eight days of maneuvers Monday in the strategic waterway.
The Islamic Republic News Agency said the exercises coincide with the anniversary of the July 3, 1988, downing of an Iranian jetliner by a U.S. warship in the gulf, in which 290 people were killed.
The naval maneuvers, involving 58,000 forces, will take place in the northern part of the gulf, the agency quoted Adm. Ali Shamkhani as saying Saturday. He said forces would train in preparedness, combat, tactics and analysis, with each stage lasting two days.
The U.S. Navy routinely patrols the gulf with an aircraft carrier battle group. It also has Air Force squadrons based in Saudi Arabia and equipment for ground forces in Kuwait.
CATANZARO, Italy _ Police made scores of arrests Saturday in what they called a major blow against organized crime in the southern region of Calabria.
The investigation, called "Operation Galaxy," also implicated politicians and brought to light an alleged plot to kill a prosecutor in Catanzaro, one of the region's main cities.
Police issued 143 arrest warrants across Italy, though most of those named were already in jail. Thirty-nine people were picked up in raids at dawn in Calabria, and at least 13 more were arrested elsewhere in Italy and in Germany, news agencies reported.
The case highlighted the growing power of the 'Ndrangheta, as the Calabrian crime syndicate is called, a sometime-ally of the Sicilian Mafia with links in Germany and northern Italy.
Israel, PLO officials stalled on pullout
EREZ CHECKPOINT, Gaza Strip _ PLO chief Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met Saturday, trying to make a July 1 deadline for reaching agreement on withdrawing Israeli troops from the West Bank.
"We are here to narrow gaps. We hope to reach agreement tonight," Peres said.
Earlier, Israeli and PLO negotiators said the gaps between the two positions were wide. "We will not be able to sign today. The agreement is not ready," said the PLO's Nabil Shaath.
Arafat and Peres are expected to announce that negotiations would continue and that they hope to sign an agreement this month.
The September 1993 accord originally called for a July 1994 Israeli troop withdrawal.
Israel, PLO miss self-rule deadline
JERUSALEM _ Israel and the PLO missed another deadline in the hobbled Mideast peace process Saturday, breaking off this morning after a more than eight-hour meeting between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.
Five weeks ago, the two leaders set Saturday _ July 1 _ as the date by which they would agree on extending Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank beyond the small enclave of Jericho. The 1993 accord originally set a July 1, 1994, deadline for self-rule.
Instead of agreement, Saturday brought more violence. Israeli troops clashed with Palestinians protesting the slow pace of negotiations and the continued detention of about 5,500 Arab prisoners in Israeli jails.
Elsewhere . . .
SASTIN, Slovakia _ Urging Roman Catholics who were repressed under communism to "make up for lost time," Pope John Paul II said during a visit here Saturday they should shape their new democracies according to church teachings.
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia _ Ethiopian security forces stormed a hide-out Saturday, killing three men suspected of trying to assassinate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, media reports said.
HAVANA _ Cuba, in a small step to liberalize its labor market, said Saturday it would allow university graduates to work part-time outside the public sector and supplement their income.