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Tue., July 12, 2005, midnight

Tehran, Iran Iran’s ultraconservative president-elect said Monday he wants “fair” relations with the whole world, but he warned Western nations not to make demands of his country, which the U.S. accuses of wanting to build nuclear weapons.

The strongly worded speech by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came during an interview with state-run Iranian television and indicates the new leader’s apparent determination not bow to U.S. demands to curtail his country’s nuclear program.

Ahmadinejad also said that his surprise landslide election win last month was a message from Iranians to “the world that they want to be independent.”

Iran has been negotiating with Britain, France and Germany, which are leading European Union efforts to persuade Tehran to permanently freeze its nuclear-enrichment activities. Uranium enriched to low levels has energy uses, while highly enriched uranium can be used in bombs.

Brazil police detain cash-laden politician

Brasilia, Brazil

A Brazilian congressman and six other people were detained Monday as they tried to board a private jet with seven suitcases stuffed with cash.

Congressman Joao Batista Ramos da Silva, an ordained minister of the evangelical Christian Universal Church of the Kingdom of God, said the money was from tithes collected during religious services, a federal police spokeswoman said.

“No one has been arrested and no charges have been filed,” said the spokeswoman, who identified herself as Patricia. She said all seven people were being questioned “in an effort to determine the origin of the money.”

Media reports said the suitcases contained $2.6 million in Brazilian reals.

Kurd rebels abduct Turkish soldier

Ankara, Turkey Kurdish guerrillas kidnapped a Turkish soldier Monday after stopping dozens of cars at a makeshift roadblock in the southeast, according to a report.

The attack comes amid escalating violence and was unusually bold for the rebels, who have recently staged hit-and-run or bombing attacks but have been unable to mount sustained attacks.

Monday’s kidnapping came after five Kurdish guerrillas set up a roadblock and stopped some 40 cars at gunpoint on the road between the southeastern towns of Tunceli and Pulumur, regional Gov. Mustafa Erkal said.

The guerrillas robbed the passengers and shouted rebel slogans before escaping with a hostage, Erkal said. He did not identify the hostage, but the Anatolia news agency said the rebels took a soldier who was traveling to his hometown for vacation.

The last kidnapping was in 1995, when Kurdish guerrillas grabbed eight soldiers and held them for two years before releasing them.

The kidnapping comes amid an upsurge in violence that since May has killed 30 soldiers and 25 rebels.


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