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U.S. lobbies for human cloning ban

The United States is campaigning for a General Assembly vote on a resolution calling for a treaty to ban all forms of human cloning, but 23 countries are opposed and Islamic nations want a two-year delay.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte sent letters to ambassadors from about 100 countries that support a total ban, saying a delay would be "extremely unfortunate" and urging them to adopt the resolution when it comes up for a vote Thursday in the General Assembly's legal committee.

A rival resolution introduced by Belgium and co-sponsored by 23 countries, including France, Germany, Britain, China and Japan, calls for a ban only on cloning to produce babies, leaving the question of human cloning for research and medical experiments to individual countries.

Iranian chief warns nuclear agency

TEHRAN, Iran _ Iran's supreme leader said Sunday that "excessive demands" from abroad could prompt Tehran to retreat from a recent commitment to give inspectors from the U.N. nuclear watchdog more access to its atomic facilities.

The warning by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei comes as the International Atomic Energy Agency evaluates a dossier on Iran's nuclear program that Tehran supplied to meet an Oct. 31 deadline to prove it is not developing atomic weapons as U.S. officials believe.

"If parties to the talks with us or centers of global power come up with excessive demands and we feel that our interests and values are harmed, we won't hesitate to end this trend (of cooperation)," Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, said in a speech on state-run television.

Afghans seek abducted Turkish civilian

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan _ Afghan and coalition forces on Sunday searched for a Turkish engineer whom insurgents threatened to kill unless 18 Taliban prisoners are released.

A Taliban spokesman had said Hasan Onal would be killed by the end of the day Sunday if the prisoners were not freed, but the deadline passed without incident. Turkey's foreign minister said later that he had information the deadline had been lifted, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Onal was abducted with his Afghan driver Thursday while returning to a camp in the southern province of Ghazni where he was staying with other workers helping to rebuild the highway between Kabul and Kandahar. The kidnappers released the driver Friday with a note demanding the release of Taliban prisoners being held in Ghazni.