Syria accepts chemical weapons deal proposed by Russia

Syria has accepted a proposal by Russia under which it would hand over its chemical weapons to the international community and its stockpiles would be destroyed, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem said.

"We held a round of very fruitful talks yesterday with the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, who presented the referenced initiative on chemical weapons. We expressed our agreement with the Russian initiative yesterday afternoon," al-Muallem told the Interfax news agency.

U.S. President Barack Obama plans to deliver an address to the nation Tuesday night to make the case for a military strike to punish Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime for allegedly using chemical weapons in an Aug. 21 attack in the suburbs of Damascus.


8 Killed in mudslide in Mexico's Veracruz state

Eight people, five of them children, were killed when a mudslide buried several dwellings in a mountainous area in the Mexican Gulf state of Veracruz, emergency management officials said.

The mudslide occurred in Tecoa, a community outside the city of Coscomatepec, located nearly 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Mexico City, following heavy rains, Veracruz emergency management office spokesmen told Efe.

The bodies of a woman and her two children, ages 8 months and 8, were found Tuesday morning, the emergency management officials said. First responders later recovered five additional bodies, including that of a baby born just eight days before the disaster.


Spain: Britain's Gibraltar stance "contravenes" U.N. resolutions

British Prime Minister David Cameron's persistent refusal to hold direct talks with Spain on the question of sovereignty over Gibraltar "clearly contravenes" the relevant U.N. resolutions, the Spanish foreign minister said.

Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo criticized London's position during an appearance before the Senate.

Britain will not discuss ceding sovereignty to Spain without the consent of the residents of the Rock, Cameron said Tuesday in a message to mark Gibraltar's national day.

Madrid, however, says sovereignty is a matter exclusively for the Spanish and British governments, and points to a series of U.N. resolutions dating back to 1965 that say likewise.


Brazilians back hiring of Cuban doctors

Nearly 74 percent of Brazilians support President Dilma Rousseff's decision to recruit physicians from Cuba and other foreign nations to bolster this country's struggling public health system, a poll shows.

The survey, commissioned by the National Transport Confederation, an industry group, also found more than 49 percent of respondents are confident the hiring of doctors from abroad "will aid greatly" in improving healthcare in Brazil.

More than 40 percent of respondents described the quality of care currently provided by the Brazilian public health system as "terrible" or "bad." Polling firm MDA talked to 2,002 registered voters in 21 of Brazil's 27 states during the period Aug. 31-Sept. 4.


Messi knew nothing about tax dodge, dad tells Spanish judge

The father of Argentine soccer icon Lionel Messi said in a letter to the Spanish court hearing a tax fraud case against the FC Barcelona forward that his son had no part in any scheme to hide income.

The striker "has always dedicated himself solely to playing soccer," Jorge Horacio Messi, who is also his son's agent, said in the letter.

Lionel Messi and his father paid 5 million euros ($6.6 million) to the Spanish treasury authorities for income from endorsements that the four-time world player of the year allegedly failed to report on his 2007, 2008 and 2009 tax returns, the superior court for the Catalonia region said last Wednesday.


WWF criticizes U.S. and Canada on monarch protection efforts

The governments of the United States and Canada are not doing enough to protect monarch butterflies, which begin their 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) journey to Mexico's forests in the two North American countries, the World Wildlife Fund said.

"The three countries are responsible for the monarch butterfly," WWF Mexico director Omar Vidal told Efe following a press conference held to discuss the situation of the butterflies.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, which is located in the eastern part of Michoacan state and the western part of Mexico state, lost 2,179 hectares (5,380 acres) of forest in a decade due mainly to illegal logging, Vidal said.

Mexico, Canada and the United States must work to protect the forests used by the butterflies, the WWF official said.