No response offered on nuclear proposal
Iran did not respond to the major powers’ proposal on resolving the dispute over its nuclear ambitions during a meeting with the European Union’s envoy Javier Solana, a U.S. official said last night.
The official said in an e-mail to reporters that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke with Mr. Solana after his meeting with Iranian negotiator Ali Larijani and that “no response to the P5 plus one proposal was given,” a reference to the permanent five members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany.
The United States and its European allies had hoped to have an answer in hand well before the annual meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations from July 15 to 17.
Putin likens stomach kiss to stroking a cat
MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin explained yesterday why he stopped to kiss a small boy on the stomach as he was walking through the Kremlin, saying it was a spontaneous gesture similar to stroking a cat.
“It was an unplanned meeting — people just came up and started talking to me,” Mr. Putin said, recalling the June 28 incident in which he encountered the boy, Nikita, among a group of tourists, lifted the boy’s shirt and planted a kiss on his stomach.
“He seemed very independent and serious. At the same time, a child is always defenseless and nice. I wanted to stroke him like a cat, and it came out in this gesture. There was nothing behind it,” Mr. Putin said in an Internet question-and-answer session with Russian and foreign audiences.
The incident prompted a rash of speculation and comment in the Russian press and major public interest.
Coalition building expected after vote
SKOPJE — Macedonia faced a period of coalition building yesterday after a national election that sank the ruling coalition and went some way toward assuaging concerns of the European Union over the country’s democratic maturity.
Projected results from a nongovernmental group gave the conservative opposition VMRO-DPMNE 43 seats in the 120-seat parliament, against 30 for the ruling Social Democrats.
VMRO-DPMNE, which was last in power when an ethnic Albanian insurgency threatened civil war in 2001, must enter a coalition with one of the main Albanian parties, possibly the ex-rebels.
Himalayan pass reopens after 44 years
NATHULA — India and China reopened a Himalayan border pass yesterday, 44 years after the route was closed in a Sino-Indian border war, in a symbol of warming ties between the two emerging Asian economies.
The reopening of the route, once part of the famed Silk Route and closed after the 1962 border conflict, came a year after China recognized the formerly independent state of Sikkim as part of India’s territory. The pass links Sikkim with southern Tibet.
Computer hacker faces extradition
LONDON — Britain’s top law-enforcement official yesterday approved the extradition to the United States of a computer hacker accused of damaging U.S. military systems.
Gary McKinnon, 40, has two weeks to appeal the order, signed by Home Secretary John Reid, the Home Office said.
Mr. McKinnon is accused of illegally accessing 97 computers, causing at least $1.6 million in damage to U.S. government and private networks. Mr. McKinnon says he was seeking evidence that the U.S. was concealing the existence of UFOs.
From wire dispatches and staff reports