World

The 1 million troops of India and Pakistan facing each other across the front line in disputed Kashmir are "beginning to feel the stress" of weeks on high-alert status, US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said, ending his mission to ease tension between the nuclear rivals. But despite the deaths of at least six more people from continued cross-border shelling, Rumsfeld said he believed "progress is indeed being made" in averting a fourth war over Kashmir. Senior Pakistani officials differed, however, saying they saw "no change whatsoever" in India's capacity to threaten their country. (Story, page 1.)

Based on the endorsements of delegates to Afghanistan's loya jirga, interim leader Hamid Karzai appeared certain to become head of the new transitional government, state TV reported. The voting, under way as the Monitor went to press, was by secret ballot. Karzai had 1,050 names on his nomination papers, out of the more than 1,500 delegates to the grand council. He was opposed by two others, one of them Masooda Jalai, a female employee of the UN World Food Program. (Related story, page 6.)

Neither the Israeli government nor senior Palestinians were willing to reject outright the US idea of provisional Palestinian statehood suggested earlier this week. But a leading Jerusalem newspaper said Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had vehemently opposed the concept in his meeting Monday with President Bush. And Palestinian Cabinet minister Saeb Erekat said a new interim solution "is not the vision we have in our fight to end the Israeli occupation."

Diplomats were punched in the face and knocked to the ground by Chinese police in a failed effort to prevent an asylum-seeker from being seized at South Korea's visa office in Beijing. The arrested man, identified as a North Korean, was pushed into a van and driven to an undisclosed destination. But his 10-year-old son remained inside the compound, bringing to 18 the number of North Koreans seeking refuge there. China, which is communist North Korea's oldest and closest ally, was demanding they all be turned over for repatriation.

No surprises were expected by political observers in France's runoff election Sunday for a new parliament, meaning a likely sizable conservative majority for President Jacques Chirac. Late opinion polls showed Chirac's allies from center-right parties – grouped into a new Union for the Presidential Majority – could win as many as 400 seats in the 577-seat National Assembly. The Socialists, who shared power in Chirac's previous administration, may win between 140 and 170 seats, the polls showed.

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