World

US defense officials denied that another unmanned Predator spy drone had been shot down over Iraq, despite losing one to anti-aircraft fire there last month. The development came as British Prime Minister Blair drew a sharper line in the developing rift with fellow European leaders, telling Parliament his government would support a US attack on Iraq even without UN backing if his counterparts "unreasonably" blocked a new Security Council resolution on the use of force.

The nuclear reactor at the center of the North Korean controversy will begin generating electricity "within weeks," senior officials said, as colleagues insisted again that their country has no intention of using it to develop weapons. On the other hand, diplomatic sources close to the North said the reclusive communist state could reverse that stance if the US pushes too hard on the nuclear issue.

A US civilian was in stable condition after surgery in Kuwait, where he was wounded in the terrorist ambush Tuesday that killed an American colleague. Kuwaiti authorities said they had "important leads" in the case and could announce an arrest within hours. In Jordan, meanwhile, a military court acquitted 10 defendants of plotting terrorist attacks against Americans and Israeli targets. But eight were jailed for one year for trying to buy or sell guns illegally.

Emergency crews swung into action across central and western Mexico, searching for people trapped under rubble from Tuesday night's powerful earthquake. Reports put the casualty count at 23 dead and 160 others injured, but those numbers appeared likely to rise. Property damage from the 7.8-magnitude quake was expected to be substantial.

Without providing details, senior officials in Venezuela suspended trading in foreign currencies for a week to try to stabilize the bolivar. They said a new policy would be announced later, and speculation centered on controls to protect the government's dwindling foreign reserves. The bolivar has lost one-quarter of its value since Jan. 1 and closed at a record low 1,853 to the US dollar Tuesday because of the 52-day-old nationwide strike. Meanwhile, the government and opposition leaders were studying a proposal by ex-US President Carter to end the standoff, although each side questioned whether the other would respect a democratic solution to the crisis.

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