World

The Northern Alliance appeared to reverse course at the conference on forming a power-sharing government for Afghanistan, saying it would not oppose an international security force. A spokesman said he wanted to clarify the alliance's stated position of Wednesday and that such a force could be acceptable once an interim administration was in place. The UN, which is sponsoring the conference, said it would be statisfied if an interim authority could be agreed to, postponing the issue of internal Afghan security.

"We entered Kandahar," a senior commander of the Northern Alliance claimed, although the advance was careful because Taliban fighters in the city that has been their base "are not surrendering." (Related story, page 7.)

Insisting again on seven days of calm before there could be new peace talks with the Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon prepared to leave for Washington and a key meeting Monday with President Bush. But Sharon (below) also said he could accept a Palestinian state - a critical element in US policy in the region - if it was "by agreement" and was "demilitarized." Such a position, however, falls far short of the Palestinians' vision of a state comprising all of the West Bank Gaza Strip, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

Campaigning wound down in Taiwan for tomorrow's critical parliamentary election amid indications that a coalition government would be necessary because no party would win a majority. Such an outcome also would complete the loss of power by the once-formidable Kuomintang, whose candidate was defeated for the presidency, ending its 55-year domination of Taiwanese politics. (Story, page 6.)

This week's claim by the chief of Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger rebels that their 29-year struggle has not been about independence was scorned as "ringing hollow" by a senior government official. Urban Development Minister Mangala Samaraweera also rejected the demand by Velupillai Prabhakaran for new peace negotiations. Prabhakaran's clandestine radio speech Tuesday is believed to be the first time he has said he'd negotiate something less than a Tamil state.

A terminally ill woman lost her appeal to Britain's highest court for the right to take her life with her husband's assistance. Five judges in the House of Lords ruled that Diane Pretty's rights were not violated in an earlier ruling denying her bid. Helping someone else commit suicide in Britain is punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Pretty vowed to challenge the Lords' ruling in the European Court of Human Rights.

Concrete posts were erected around Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's office following his claim of a "terrorist threat" against him. An aide said foreign journalists were assisting a plot by opposition forces in the pay of Britain to topple Mugabe's government.

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