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Sudan lobbies against U.N. peace force

UNITED NATIONS - Sudan has begun a campaign to keep African Union troops in Darfur and prevent a U.N. force from taking over efforts to restore peace in the conflict-wracked region, the top U.N. envoy in Sudan said Tuesday.

Jan Pronk said an anti-U.N. climate is heating up strongly in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, with threats and warnings that handing over to a U.N. force would put Sudan "in the same situation as Iraq a couple of years ago."

The U.N. Security Council has authorized the start of planning for a takeover and U.S. Ambassador John Bolton tried unsuccessfully to get the council to authorize the new U.N. force.

An estimated 180,000 people have died, mainly of hunger and disease, and some 2-million have been displaced since rebels from Darfur's ethnic African population revolted three years ago.

Earlier this month, President Bush made his strongest statement of support yet for an expanded international role in Darfur, backing a larger force for Darfur and NATO involvement.

U.S., India talk nuclear before Bush's visit

SHANNON, Ireland - The United States and India were bargaining over the terms of a landmark nuclear agreement Tuesday even as President Bush flew to New Delhi for the first visit there of his presidency.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said sticking points remained in the way of an agreement and singled out one particularly contentious subject.

"The one thing that is absolutely necessary is that any agreement would assure that once India has decided to put a reactor under safeguard that it remain permanently under safeguard," she said.

Meanwhile, about 1,000 Muslim demonstrators in Bombay, India, shouted "Death to America!" and burned effigies of Bush on Tuesday, demanding that he be barred from visiting the country. While India, a nation of more than 1-billion people, is overwhelmingly Hindu, it has the world's second-largest population of Muslims.

Bush's trip . . .

TODAY: Arrives in New Delhi.

THURSDAY/FRIDAY: New Delhi and Hyderabad, India. Meeting with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Meetings with opposition leader L.K. Advani of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party and with Indian National Congress party chairman Sonia Gandhi. State dinner hosted by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Agricultural event and meeting with Indian high-tech entrepreneurs. Speech.

SATURDAY: Islamabad, Pakistan. Meeting with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. Meeting on earthquake reconstruction efforts. State dinner hosted by Musharraf.

SUNDAY: Arrive in Washington.

Putin optimistic as Russia, Iran resume talks

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Russia's president said Tuesday that he is optimistic that his country will strike an agreement with Iran over its disputed nuclear program.

A delegation led by top Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani is expected to arrive in Moscow today for discussions on a Kremlin proposal to enrich uranium for Iran on Russian territory to ensure the nuclear fuel cannot be diverted for atomic bombs.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board of governors is to meet on Iran Monday, potentially starting a process leading to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose sanctions on Iran.

Beijing accuses Taiwan of "grave provocation'

BEIJING - President Hu Jintao of China reacted sharply Tuesday to the decision by President Chen Shui-bian of Taiwan to terminate the island's unification council, calling it "a grave provocation" and "a dangerous step on the road toward Taiwan Independence."

Chen on Tuesday completed the formalities for scrapping the National Unification Council and guidelines for unification with mainland China.

Though largely moribund, the council and the guidelines were symbols of Taiwan's political links to Beijing that Chen had once vowed to preserve.

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