UN nuclear agency rejects Iran’s stance on military sites

VIENNA (AP) — The top U.N. official monitoring Iran’s nuclear program on Thursday rejected Tehran’s claim that its military sites were off-limits to inspection, saying his agency needs access to all “relevant locations” if suspicions arise of possible hidden atomic activities.

The comments by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano are significant — his agency is policing the deal capping atomic activities that Iran says are peaceful but the U.S. suspects are a covert pursuit of nuclear arms.

Adding to their weight is their timing. President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal as too soft on Tehran and has left open the option of pulling out of the treaty that Washington and five other world powers agreed to with Iran just over two years ago.

Although Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany also signed on to the pact, Iran and the U.S. were the key players. A U.S. pullout could effectively kill the agreement, and lead Iran to quickly ramp up programs that could be used to make weapons.

IS convoy stuck after being blocked by US airstrikes

BEIRUT (AP) — A convoy of Islamic State militants being evacuated from the Lebanon-Syria border was moved to another Syrian government-held area Thursday after their passage to IS-held territory further east was blocked by U.S.-led airstrikes.

More than 300 militants and their families are in the convoy of buses after vacating the border area as part of a Hezbollah-negotiated deal to transport them to an IS-held town in eastern Syria near the Iraqi border.

The deal has angered Iraq and the U.S., which launched airstrikes Wednesday to block the convoy’s advance.

After being stuck for hours at an exchange point, the buses moved further north to a government-controlled area while negotiations continued in search of a new way to reach an IS-held area further east.

Former presidential hopeful in Rwanda said to be in custody

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A women’s rights activist and former presidential hopeful is in police custody in Rwanda, her brother said Thursday, raising concerns about the whereabouts of a rare challenger to longtime President Paul Kagame.

Police have said Diane Rwigara is free after her home in the capital, Kigali, was searched on Wednesday.

But Rwigara’s brother Aristide, who lives in the United States, told The Associated Press that his sister was arrested Wednesday along with three siblings and their mother.

Police have said Diane Rwigara is under investigation for tax evasion and forgery. She is accused of forging signatures to support a candidacy for the Aug. 4 vote.

She was disqualified ahead of the election won easily by longtime President Paul Kagame, whose government has long been accused by human rights groups of silencing opposing voices. Kagame, who called the election a “formality” and won by nearly 99 percent of the vote, has denied the accusations.

2 dead as Mexico City bandits fight over right to rob bus

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Armed thieves frequently board buses to rob passengers in Mexico City and its suburbs.

But the robberies hit a new high — or low — when three began to work over the same bus simultaneously and got into a gun fight among themselves.

Two young men were robbing passengers in the back of the bus when they noticed an older thief robbing those up front.

They opened fire on each other as horrified passengers watched.

The Mexico City prosecutor’s office said Wednesday that the older robber died aboard the bus. A pistol was found next to his body.

One of the younger bandits died of gunshot wounds at a hospital. The other was arrested.

Macedonia, Greece seek better ties amid 25-year name dispute

SKOPJE, Macedonia (AP) — Macedonia and Greece committed Thursday to improving relations strained for more than two decades by a dispute over Macedonia’s name.

Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias told reporters that their governments were committed to working on good relations and regional cooperation.

The change comes after Prime Minister Zoran Zaev formed what he has billed as a reformist coalition government this spring. He has vowed to improve relations with neighbors of the Balkan country officially known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, abbreviated to FYROM, the name with which it was recognized by the United Nations after Yugoslavia’s breakup in 1991.

“I told Kotzias that I hope that Greece will recognize the new reality in Macedonia and our expressed desire for friendship,” Dimitrov said.

Referring to Macedonia as “our dear neighbor in the north,” Kotzias said that Greece was ready to assist Macedonia on its path toward full membership in the European Union and NATO once the name dispute is resolved.

Zimbabwe group criticizes evictions linked to first lady

HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Zimbabwe’s human rights commission is criticizing the eviction of families from a farm linked to President Robert Mugabe’s wife, calling it “unlawful and inhuman.”

The statutory body is tasked with investigating human rights abuses. Its report says police pulled down the homes of more than 100 families.

Many of the families have been at the farm since 2000 when they evicted the former owner at the inception of Zimbabwe’s often violent and racially charged land reforms, their lawyers said.

The commission did not link the first lady, Grace Mugabe, to the police action. But in court papers filed in April in a case against two of the farm dwellers, state prosecutors accused them of having illegally entered and refusing to leave the farm owned by the Mugabes.