Iran arrests former nuclear negotiator

TEHRAN, Iran - Iranian authorities have arrested the country's former nuclear negotiator, an ally of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's predecessor and key rival, and he reportedly could face an espionage charge.

The Iranian state-run news agency said Hossein Mousavian was arrested Monday in the capital. Iran did not release any details about the specific charges against Mousavian, but in such cases they usually involve violating national interests or state security interests or treason.

Mousavian was a member of the Iranian nuclear negotiating team until 2005.

- AP

Afghans protest civilian casualties

KABUL, Afghanistan - Afghans can no longer accept or understand civilian deaths from international military operations, President Hamid Karzai said yesterday after officials said 51 villagers were killed in a U.S.-led offensive against the Taliban in western Afghanistan.

Despite assertions that women and children were among the dead, the U.S. military maintained it had no reports of civilian casualties. But rising public anger was evident as students staged a fourth day of anti-American demonstrations in an eastern city over civilian deaths.

Karzai met with NATO, U.S. and European Union officials, telling them that "civilian deaths and arbitrary decisions to search people's houses have reached an unacceptable level, according to a statement from his office.

- AP

Japan: Help with N. Korea defense

WASHINGTON - Japan's defense minister said yesterday the Unites States and Japan should increase cooperation on missile defense systems to confront North Korea.

Fumio Kyuma said his country was acutely aware of the threat posed by neighboring North Korea, which fired a missile over Japan in 1998 and test-fired a series of missiles into the Sea of Japan in July of last year. The North also exploded an underground nuclear device in October.

In March, Japan began deploying its first advanced Patriot missile defense system, which would be used as a last resort if interceptor missiles fired from U.S. or Japanese ships should fail to knock out incoming missiles. Japan plans to deploy about 30 mobile PAC-3 launchers at 10 military bases across the country through 2010.

- AP

Elsewhere:

Prime Minister Tony Blair rejected demands for a fresh inquiry into the 2005 suicide bomb attacks in London, saying it would distract from the fight against terrorism.

Young Russians staged raucous protests in Moscow yesterday to denounce neighboring Estonia for removing a Soviet war memorial from its capital, and the Estonian ambassador said pro-Kremlin activists tried to attack her as she arrived at a news conference.

The Palestinian government knows where to find a British journalist kidnapped nearly two months ago but has held back on raiding the hideout at Britain's request, the Palestinian prime minister said yesterday.