World

Bringing a joint call from seven other European leaders for unity with the US, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is due at Camp David, Md., Friday for what observers term a final "war council" with President Bush on Iraq. The call also was signed by the prime ministers of Italy, Spain, Portugal, Poland, Hungary, and Denmark, and the president of the Czech Republic. Meanwhile, Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, confirmed reports that US forces already are inside Iraq, but he said their numbers are "not significant" and would not discuss their activities.

Secure in his reelection victory, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon rejected an offer by Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to resume peace talks. An Arafat deputy called the move "a reflection of the policies of the next Israeli government" and an attempt to "dictate rather than negotiate." But Sharon's spokesman dismissed the offer as "duplicity and deception."

The historic summit between the leaders of South and North Korea two years ago was "bought" with $186 million borrowed from a government-owned bank, opposition leaders in Seoul claimed. The accusation came as government auditors disclosed that the Hyundai industrial conglomerate had lost much of the investment on projects begun in North Korea prior to the June 15, 2000, meeting that helped retiring South Korean President Kim Dae Jung win the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts at reconciliation. Meanwhile, Kim's successor, Roh Moo-hyun, said he opposed UN sanctions against the North despite concerns over its nuclear weapons program.

Still awaiting a promised address to the nation by President Laurent Gbagbo, Ivory Coast residents were withdrawing their money from banks as they braced for the possible collapse of the government's peace deal with dissident Army troops. Foreigners who could, were leaving the country. Analysts said Gbagbo could reject the deal he agreed to last weekend - which gives the rebels control of key government departments - or reaffirm it and risk a new mutiny in the armed forces.

All diplomatic and economic contacts with neighboring Cambodia were suspended by Thailand's government after a night of rioting against Thai targets in Phnom Penh, the capital. Military planes were evacuating Thais trapped by the violence, the border was closed, and Cambodians were denied entry. The trouble began over a report that a Thai TV star had accused Cambodia of stealing the 9th century Angkor Wat temple, now its national symbol. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said his government would "try" to pay for the damage to Thai property, estimated at $23 million.

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