World

UN arms inspectors may need as long as a year to complete their search in Iraq, the head of the UN's nuclear watchdog agency said in Paris. Mohamed ElBaradei acknowledged pressure to finish the job of ensuring Iraqi disarmament "as soon as possible," but said that depends on cooperation from Baghdad. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said there's no "exact timetable" for the inspectors. The Bush administration, however, is assembling a military force in the Persian Gulf region capable of staging an attack, if ordered, within weeks.

Escalating violence two weeks before Israel's elections claimed at least 10 lives in a 24-hour span. The toll included two Israelis and eight Palestinians, four of whom died in armed clashes while trying to enter Israel. Over the weekend, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat called on militant groups to halt attacks before the Jan. 18 vote. Some analysts say violence is likely to boost Israeli support for incumbent Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Six more people are in custody in Britain in connection with a discovered cache of ricin, a toxic poison, published reports said. The five men and one woman were detained Sunday in the southern city of Bournemouth. On Monday, four of the seven men arrested last week in London appeared in court on chemical weapons and terrorism-related charges.

Some 800 people have died as a result of a month of cold weather in Bangladesh, northern India, and Nepal. South Asia's large poor and homeless populations have been hardest hit.

The world's main oil exporters agreed to boost production targets by 1.5 million barrels a day, to 24.5 million, at an emergency meeting in Vienna. The increase by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is designed to make up the shortfall from a six-week-old strike in Venezuela, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter and a major supplier to the US. The strike, plus concerns about possible conflict in Iraq, drove oil prices to a two-year high of $33.65 a barrel last month.

Ignoring calls to join opposition protests, Venezuelan troops fired tear gas to disperse a march on a military base in Caracas Sunday. President Hugo Chávez warned the military last week to prepare to secure the nation's food supply, accusing the opposition of creating shortages during the oil strike aimed at forcing him from power.

Paving the way for the extradition and trial of some warlords, Afghanistan's government announced it agreed to join the International Criminal Court and would hand over "criminals" implicated in mass killings and expulsions during the country's 23 years of civil war. The court was established last year.

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