World

With six days to go before a full account is due of Iraq's weapons program, the British government ratcheted up the pressure on Saddam Hussein, accusing his regime of "deliberate" violations of human rights. A 23-page dossier detailed such treatment of political prisoners as acid baths and eye-gouging. Iraq did not immediately react to the report, and critics accused Britain of taking a belated interest in human rights there.

Despite a chorus of ridicule and indignation, Australian Prime Minister John Howard refused to back down from a vow to take preemptive military action if he believed terrorists in neighboring countries were preparing more attacks. The pledge, made on national TV Sunday, came in the wake of the Oct. 12 terrorist bombings on the Indonesian island of Bali, which killed 90 Australians. Indonesia and Thailand were the first to criticize the declaration, followed Monday by senior Malaysian officials, who said any such intrusion would be an act of war.

New diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program, with the presidents of Russia and China saying in a joint declaration that such a move "is important for the destiny of the world" as well as for Asian security. Meeting in Beijing, Vladimir Putin and the retiring Jiang Zemin issued their strongest call yet for detente on the divided Korean peninsula. Their countries are North Korea's closest allies.

Plans for a "well-paid" permanent 70,000-man army were unveiled by Afghan President Hamid Karzai at an international conference on the first anniversary of the accord that established his country's post-Taliban government. But, meeting with delegates of 31 other nations in the German hotel where the accord was reached, he did not say who would head up the army's regional commands or where they'd be based. So far, 2,000 Afghans have completed training as regular soldiers, and Karzai's control is limited mostly to the capital, Kabul. As he spoke at the conference, the forces of rival warlords in western Afghan-istan fought for a third straight day despite his pleas to stop.

Street vendors and most major industries appeared to be ignoring the general strike in Venezuela called by opponents of President Hugo Chávez. Chávez, who rejects all demands to step down or agree to a referendum next February on his controversial rule, called the strike - the fourth this year - a thinly disguised coup attempt. His government organized a huge street market in central Caracas, selling food cheaply, and business was brisk.

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