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Promising free access to suspected weapons sites, the speaker of Iraq's parliament issued an invitation to any members of US Congress who want to visit, and said they were free to bring along weapons experts. The invitation, in a letter to Congress, came five days after Iraq asked chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix to come to Baghdad. The offer was rejected by President Bush, who repeated his intention to use all means at his disposal to remove Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

After a series of attacks by Palestinian militants that left 18 dead in 24 hours – including a car bombing in northern Israel Monday – that nation imposed a travel ban on most of the West Bank and sealed off Rafah, in the Gaza Strip. Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said the army would expand a closure of Palestinian areas, rather than ease it as earlier planned.

The US consulate in Karachi, Pakistan was closed indefinitely for security reasons Monday. A car bombing at the site killed 12 people in June, and three suspects are set to go on trial Aug. 10. In a separate incident, five gunmen killed six people and wounded two others at a Christian school 35 miles north of Islamabad, in the third attack on a Christian institution since President Pervez Musharraf sided with the US in its counterterrorism war.

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Spain's government blamed Basque separatist group ETA for a bomb that killed two people and injured more than 40 Sunday. The blast went off outside a police barracks in the southern tourist resort of Santa Pola. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar called for parliament to ban Batasuna, a Basque political party allied with ETA, in response. ETA is regarded as a terrorist group by the US and European Union.

China sternly warned Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian "to immediately stop the horse at the edge of the precipice." The statement came in reply to Chen's remarks Saturday that a referendum on independence is a "basic human right" and that China and Taiwan are, in reality, separate countries. China regards Taiwan as a renegade province and has threatened to invade if it declares independence.

The streets were quiet and lines at were short at banks, which reopened in Uruguay Monday following word that the US approved $1.5 billion in immediate aid. The funds are a temporary loan until the International Monetary Fund can work out an aid package to address a financial crisis that prompted runs on banks and looting last week.

Solemn ceremonies to call for peace, antinuclear demonstrations, and private moments of prayer surround Tuesday's observance in Japan of the 57th anniversary of the US atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. The Aug. 6, 1945 blast, and a second in Nagasaki three days later, killed 220,000 people and forced Japan's surrender in World War II.

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