Iraq reviewing security firms

BAGHDAD - The Iraqi government said Tuesday it would review the status of foreign security firms after a fatal shooting of civilians involving Blackwater USA, while radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called for a ban on all the companies of 'the occupiers.'

A series of bombings, meanwhile, ripped through Baghdad, killing at least 18 people and wounding more than 60, police said. The deadliest attack was a car bombing in a parking lot near the Health Ministry and the city's main morgue that claimed seven lives. And three American soldiers were killed in an explosion near their patrol northeast of the capital.

The Interior Ministry said Monday that Blackwater - a Moyock, N.C.-based company that protects U.S. diplomats and other dignitaries and projects in Iraq - was banned from working in the country after Sunday's deadly shootings that apparently occurred after a car bombing in western Baghdad.

China evacuates nearly 2M as typhoon nears

SHANGHAI, China - A typhoon expected to be among the most powerful storms to hit China in years churned toward the densely populated coast on Tuesday with 165 mph wind gusts, and the government evacuated 1.8 million people.

The fringes of Typhoon Wipha lashed northern Taiwan, where schools, offices and the stock market closed. A construction worker was killed when the storm's winds knocked down scaffolding, Taiwan's Disaster Relief Center said.

French minister backs down from Iran war threats

MOSCOW - France's foreign minister appeared Tuesday to soften his weekend warning of war with Iran if it develops nuclear weapons, emphasizing instead the need to 'negotiate, negotiate, negotiate without respite.'

In the wake of Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner's warning, a top Russian official said that bombing Iran would lead to 'catastrophic consequences.'

N. Korea, Syria deny cooperation in nuke program

DAMASCUS, Syria - Syria and North Korea denied Tuesday they are cooperating on a Syrian nuclear program, and they accused U.S. officials of spreading the allegations for political reasons - either to back Israel or to block progress on a deal between Washington and Pyongyang.

A front-page editorial in the government newspaper Tishrin also was critical of the United States for failing to condemn a Sept. 6 Israeli incursion, which it called a violation of international law.