World

Nuclear rivals India and Pakistan appeared on the brink of war for the fourth time over disputed Kashmir. On a tour of the volatile state, Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told troops deployed there, "the time has come for a decisive fight, and ... we will win." India also moved five "front-line" warships closer to Pakistan. Pakistan said through a Foreign Ministry spokesman that it "wants peace" but is ready to "combat any aggression" imposed on it. Following a meeting by President Pervez Musharraf with his cabinet and security advisers, the Foreign Ministry also said Pakistan also would continue to provide "moral and diplomatic support" to the cause of Kashmiri self-determination.

The largest security effort since World War II was sealing off the area of Berlin where President Bush is to begin his six-day European tour. But he told a German TV station he was unconcerned about protests against his visit. On the trip, Bush is expected to tell European leaders they should share US concerns about the danger to international security posed by Iraq's government. In a speech to Germany's parliament today, he also was to call for continued cooperation against terrorism. (Story, page 6.)

Two weeks of diplomatic feuding between Japan and China appeared over after the Beijing government allowed five people who were dragged from the Japanese consulate in Shen- yang by police to continue on their quest for political asylum. The five, all North Koreans, are due in South Korea today, via the Philippines. Their release, diplomats in Beijing said, did not mean China was accepting blame for the incident.

Concern grew over the health of Pope John Paul II as he landed in the former Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to begin a five-day tour that's also due to include Bulgaria. For the first time, the pope required an elevator to lower him to the ground from his plane. He also was unable to read more than a few words of his arrival statement, which an aide finished for him.

The entire government of Kyrgyzstan resigned and several senior police officials were fired following weeks of violent street protests. A special state commission blamed them for an incident in March in which police killed five people demonstrating against the arrest of a political opposition leader, their representative in parliament. Despite his release, the protests grew more intense last week when parliament OKd a decision by President Askar Akayev to drop his claim to territory whose ownership is disputed by neighboring China. Sensitivities in the ex-Soviet republic are especially high because US forces are using it as a staging base for operations in Afghanistan.

A searing, two-week heat wave across south Asia pushed the number of deaths near 1,500, government officials said. Many other people were hospitalized with heat-related illness. Temperatures consistently have been in the 110-degree F. range, especially in southern India. No immediate letup was in sight, but relief is expected by the end of the month, when the annual monsoon season usually arrives.

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