World

Provoking angry US government reactions and plunging NATO into perhaps its deepest internal crisis yet, France, Germany, and Belgium blocked the alliance from planning defensive measures in the event of war with Iraq. The three NATO members voted to prevent preparations - sought by the US - to protect Turkey, a likely launchpad for attacks on Iraq. France and Germany are proposing a counterstrategy that would send peacekeepers to Iraq to supervise UN weapons inspections.

With the expectation of imminent war, diplomatic staffs, their dependents, and other personnel considered nonessential were being ordered out of Iraq by their governments:

• The final four members of the Philippines Embassy staff in Baghdad are expected to leave for home Tuesday.

• China said it is withdrawing diplomats "who are not in urgent need."

• Only its ambassador and essential lower-level diplomats from Pakistan remain in Iraq, the Islamabad government said.

• Australia warned its citizens in Iraq to leave immediately. Japan's government urged its nationals to postpone travel to Iraq, Kuwait, Israel, the West Bank, and much of Saudi Arabia and advised those already there on "nonessential business" to evacuate.

A "high-profile" political dissident who has lived in New York for more than two decades was ordered to prison for the rest of his life in China - a sentence that may be the harshest of its kind by a court there since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. Wang Bingzhang was convicted of plotting to bomb China's Embassy in Thailand. The official Xinhua news agency also said he's accused of spying for Taiwan and of posting writings on the Internet that have "agitated terrorist activities."

The largest Marxist rebel movement in Colombia stopped just short of claiming responsibility for Friday's massive car-bomb explosion that killed 33 people and injured 160 others. But in an address to the nation Sunday night, President Alvaro Uribe said government security forces had determined the attacker's identity - his vice president already had named the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia as the guilty party - and vowed tougher security measures. Earlier, thousands of people of various social backgrounds marched through the capital, Bogotá, to protest the attack.

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