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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Kristen Broman-Worthington / December 10, 2002



"At first glance," Iraq's long-awaited dossier appears to support the claims by Saddam Hussein that his regime has no nuclear weapons program, the UN agency that will check its veracity said. The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said it will try to provide the Security Council with a preliminary report by Dec. 20 on its analysis of the Iraqi declaration, but senior IAEA officials said "cross-checking on the ground" would be needed to verify Iraq's claims. Meanwhile, the permanent members of the Security Council were to be provided with unedited copies of the Iraqi report as soon as Monday, a reversal of an earlier decision to suppress leaks of technical information.

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Panic buying was reported across Venezuela as it became apparent that the effects of the growing antigovernment strike would take weeks to reverse. Under orders from embattled leftist President Hugo Chávez, National Guard troops forced gas stations to remain open and commandeered private tanker trucks to deliver fuel. Opposition leaders vowed to continue the strike indefinitely, but Chávez said again Sunday that he won't quit under pressure and warned that he may yet declare a state of emergency.

Senior Palestinians warned of a "dangerous escalation" of tensions with Israel if Yasser Arafat is again kept from attending the traditional midnight mass in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve. Their response came after a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said publicly that Arafat, a Muslim, should "stay in his place" because "he has not been a man of peace." Israel drew international condemnation last year by banning him from traveling to Bethlehem.

A peace deal to end 26 years of bitter separatist violence in Indonesia's Aceh province was signed by government and Muslim insurgent representatives. The sides agreed to an immediate truce, rebel disarmament over a seven-month span, and new local elections, all under the supervision of a multilateral observer team. But the pact doesn't resolve the rebel demand for independence based on an Islamic model, and critics noted that previous cease-fires consistently have been violated.

A furious Vojislav Kostunica refused to accept the results of Sunday's runoff election in Serbia, the third failure in less than a year to choose a president for what's left of Yugoslavia. The incumbent Yugoslav head of state won 57.5 percent of the votes, to 36.3 percent for ultranationalist challenger Voji-slav Seselj. But only 45 percent of eligible voters went to the polls, rendering the outcome invalid. There is no legal provision for another runoff.

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