World

In a new diplomatic offensive, Iraq collected expressions of opposition to a prospective US military attack from China, India, and neighboring Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said there still was room for a diplomatic solution to avert war. Meanwhile, Iraqi officials led reporters on another tour of a site suspected of producing chemical weapons – the third such exercise in a month. The Iraqis said it is an insecticide plant.

A "liaison bureau" to nurture contacts with the US has been opened in neighboring Dubai by a trusted senior adviser to Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a published report said. The report in a respected daily newspaper, said former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati had convinced Khamenei of the need for dialogue with the US before the latter attempts a military campaign against Iraq.

Palestinian police assumed control of three Gaza Strip checkpoints, another step in the new security plan that calls for Israeli forces to pull back from self-rule zones they've occupied since the intifada began almost two years ago. But a meeting between the two sides to discuss the next stage of the plan was postponed by Israel because of a mortar shell that hit a home in a Jewish settlement in the strip and the interception of a suspected weapons shipment.

Public security agencies have "credible information" that terrorists plan an attack in Pakistan Sept. 11, the anniversary of those in the US, a senior official said. He identified such potential targets as foreign diplomatic missions, police and military posts, and churches. To date, Muslim militants angered at Pakistan's help in the US counterterrorism mission have killed 48 people in bombings or shootings at two churches, a hospital, and a school – all of them Christian – plus the US consulate in Karachi and a bus.

A day after a torrent of criticism directed at them for a sumptuous banquet whose cost "was no object," delegates to the UN Earth Summit in South Africa focused on the clean water and sanitation needs of more than 2 billion impoverished people. The delegates produced an agreement on restoring depleted fish stocks "where possible" by 2015. But some environmental activists called the target date "too late."

A notice posted on the website of Batasuna, the suspended political party linked to Spain's Basque separatist movement, said it is relocating across the border to southern France. Meanwhile, Batasuna supporters clashed with police sent to seize their offices in cities across northern Spain. A party leader said his followers would "remember this day" because the seals placed on the offices were in Spanish rather than the Basque language, although the police who put them up are ethnic Basques.

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