Iran's leader says no nuclear arms

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran's supreme leader vowed yesterday that his country would pursue a peaceful atomic energy program and had no interest in nuclear weapons, calling them expensive and useless.

The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not represent any change in Iran's official position but were unusual because he said them publicly, just days before the major world powers were expected to offer Iran new incentives to suspend its uranium-enrichment program.

Khamenei said that accusations by the United States and other nations that Iran was secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons were false, adding that the charges were meant to deprive Iran of its legitimate right to nuclear power. "We are seeking nuclear energy for peaceful purposes for daily use," he said, "and we will continue this path to the envy of our enemies."


- N.Y. Times News Service

News group: U.N. censoring speech

GOTEBORG, Sweden - A world conclave of newspapers condemned the U.N. Human Rights Council yesterday, saying it had repeatedly sought to undermine freedom of the press to protect religious sensibilities.

The council's "proper role is to defend freedom of expression and not to support the censorship of opinion at the request of autocracies," the World Association of Newspapers and World Editors Forum said in a resolution.

It said a resolution passed by the Council in March, sponsored by Pakistan, had "opened the door" to government restrictions "on the grounds that it might offend religious sensibilities."

- AP

Greek mayor weds gay couples

ATHENS, Greece - Defying threats of prosecution and public wrath, the mayor of a tiny Greek island performed the country's first same-sex marriages yesterday, wedding two men and two women.

The civil ceremonies, held at sunrise in the nondescript town hall of Tilos, in the eastern Aegean Sea, defied statements by a senior Greek prosecutor last week that such unions were illegal. "It's done now," the mayor, Anastassios Aliferis, said in a telephone interview, calling it "a historic moment."

With its abundance of glamorous gay bars and island resorts such as Mykonos, Greece has long drawn thousands of gay tourists. But gays and lesbians in this European Union nation of 11 million complain of discrimination. Greece's powerful Orthodox Church denounces homosexuality as a sin.

- N.Y. Times News Service

Elsewhere:

Madame Tussauds

defended its decision to include a wax likeness of Adolf Hitler at its new Berlin museum, arguing it would make little sense to ignore his role in German history. Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit has tried to discourage the museum from including Hitler.

Russian President

Dmitry A. Medvedev dismissed the chief of the general staff of the armed forces, Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, who had clashed with civilian Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov over moves to tighten the Kremlin's grip on the massive military's purse strings.