World

UN Security Council members opened what was likely to be the showdown week on an Iraqi disarmament resolution with a briefing by weapons inspection chief Hans Blix. The US wants a vote by Friday on the proposed use of force if Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction program isn't dismantled. But Blix was thought to have information based on his recent discussions with Iraqi officials that might help bridge gaps between the tougher US-British draft and French-Russian proposals for terms that would not provide a "blank check" for attacking Iraq to effect "regime change."

The murder of a senior American aid official in Amman, Jordan probably was the work of a professional assassin, investigators suggested. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the shooting of Laurence Foley early Monday. But it came amid rising anti-American sentiment over the anticipated attack on neighboring Iraq. Foley's work involved US aid and humanitarian programs in Jordan, and his murder is believed to be the first of a Western diplomat there.

An official day of mourning was observed in Russia for the deaths of more than 100 hostages when security forces stormed the Moscow theater where they were being held by Chechen guerrillas. The government, however, continued to refuse to identify the gas used in the raid, even though 45 of the freed hostages were reported gravely ill from its effects. President Vladimir Putin vowed to make no deals with terrorists, despite a warning by Chechen leader Aslan Maskh-adov that more such attacks were "inevitable" unless Russia pursues a peace deal with separatists.

Only an unlikely "yes" vote Wednesday by Labor Party members of parliament on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed 2003 budget appeared able to prevent the collapse of his "national unity" coalition and a new election. Sharon said that "whoever does not vote for the budget cannot be part of the government." But Labor leaders said a "no" vote was certain because the plan calls for spending on Jewish settlements that their party wants redirected to social programs.

Buoyed by his landslide victory in Brazil's presidential runoff election, leftist Luiz Inacio (Lula) da Silva pledged "the biggest effort a human can make so that our people can rise up again." Aides said his first priority was a statement underscoring his promises of responsible economic policies amid the financial crisis that has caused Brazil's currency to fall 40 percent in value this year.

Ten policemen were hurt in a hail of stones as followers of radical Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir tried to prevent his removal from a hospital for questioning about a string of violent attacks, among them the Oct. 12 bombings on Bali. The leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) extremist group was taken to Jakarta, the capital, where authorities said he'd be "investigated, not punished." JI has been linked to Al Qaeda, but Bashir denies its existence.

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