A new war that neither nation appeared to want loomed nearer between India and Pakistan, with US diplomats reportedly trying to defuse the situation. India's defense minister was touring front-line troop and guided missile positions in disputed Kashmir while other senior officials said Pakistan's arrest of a leading anti-Indian militant and 30 of his followers "is not adequate." For its part, Pakistan wants a peaceful settlement "provided the Indian government sheds its superiority complex," President Pervez Musharraf said. The two nations have fought three wars to date over Kashmir.Skip to next paragraph
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Palestinian negotiators won the reopening of a key border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the OK to repair damage to the nearby international airport in high-level security discussions with Israel. But Israeli forces followed up one of the region's bleakest Christmases in years by entering a West Bank village and arresting 17 suspected Palestinian militants, five of them members of Yasser Arafat's police force.
Rail traffic through the Channel Tunnel resumed after hundreds of refugees broke through security barricades on Christmas and tried to cross illegally from France into Britain in search of jobs and permanent residency status. Police fired tear gas to disperse them, injuring at least one and arresting 128 others, many of them Afghans and Kurds. Such attempts are common, but usually only by a few people at a time. Above, helmeted police herd some of the refugees away from the tunnel entrance in Coquelles, France.
Mediators from Norway were asked to resume their efforts to bring Sri Lanka's government and Tamil separatist rebels back into peace negotiations. But in making the request, new Prime Minister Ranil Wickreme-singhe said it was unlikely that talks could begin until March "at the earliest." He also did not reveal his position on the Tamils' demand that the ban on their liberation movement be dropped before talks resume. Norway has little to show for almost two years of trying to promote peace in the island nation. But the latest cease-fire between the rebels and government troops, which began Christmas Eve, was reported holding.
The worst wildfires in seven years - some of them sending flames more than 100 feet high - were burning in a virtual ring around Australia's largest city, Sydney. No casualties were reported, but firefighters were unable to save at least 140 properties. The number of people who fled or had been evacuated reached 3,000, and authorities said the emergency could last another 10 days because of high winds and 95 degree F. heat.