World in brief: Chinese vessel sinks; 28 missing
A Chinese vessel sank in the northern Philippines, and 28 crew members were reported missing, a coast guard spokesman said today.
The M/V Jinshan had passed a lighthouse at Cape Bojeador in Ilocos Norte province when it developed problems and sank late Sunday, coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said.
He said the Philippines received a request for assistance from the China Maritime Rescue Coordinating Center and sent a search vessel to look for the missing crewmen.
Ayatollah warns nuclear critics
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that God would punish Iranians if they do not support the country’s disputed nuclear program, state radio reported.
“The Iranian people openly announce that they will defend their rights. …God will reprimand them if they do not do so,” state radio quoted Khamenei as saying.
The 68-year-old ayatollah, who has final say on all state matters, said Washington’s claim that Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon is false. The Iranian government has long insisted its nuclear activities are only for peaceful generation of fuel.
“They know that Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapon, and they are just trying to block the Iranian nation from achieving advanced technology,” Khamenei was quoted as saying in Tehran.
The U.S. has led the push for a third round of U.N. sanctions against Iran for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or material for an atomic bomb.
Chavez says he won’t stop oil
President Hugo Chavez sent a soothing message to American motorists on Sunday, saying that Venezuela is not preparing to cut off oil shipments to the United States.
The socialist leader rattled oil markets last Sunday when he threatened to halt shipments to the United States in retaliation for Exxon Mobil Corp.’s success in convincing courts in the U.S. and Europe to freeze Venezuelan assets.
“We don’t have plans to stop sending oil to the United States,” the socialist leader said Sunday.
But he added that Venezuela could cut off supplies to the United States if Washington “attacks Venezuela or tries to harm us.”
Chavez has repeatedly warned against a possible U.S. invasion he says Washington would use to seize control of Venezuela’s immense oil reserves.
U.S. officials have denied any such plan exists.
President out after first round
President Tassos Papadopoulos was eliminated Sunday in a cliff-hanger first round of Cyprus’ presidential election – a surprise result that could signal a renewed drive to end the island’s decades-old division.
Communist party leader Demetris Christofias, 61, and 59-year-old former Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides of the conservative DISY party will now vie for the five-year presidency in a Feb. 24 runoff.
The election is seen as pivotal to the decades-old search for a deal to reunify the ethnically divided island, a division that has proven to be a major stumbling block to Turkey’s efforts to join the European Union.
Both are seen as more moderate and have said they want speedy negotiations with the Turkish Cypriots who have been split from the Greek Cypriot south since 1974, when a failed bid to unite the island with Greece triggered a Turkish invasion.