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Under heavy pressure from the Bush administration, Turkish legislators are expected to open discussion Thursday on a proposed multibillion-dollar deal that would allow US troops to use that nation for attacks against Iraq. It was not clear how soon a vote would follow, but, despite pockets of opposition in parliament, most analysts expected the proposal to pass. It already has the approval of of Prime Minister Abdullah Gul's Cabinet.

Members of Parliament from British Prime Minister Tony Blair's own Labour Party were aiming to embarrass him by pressing for passage of a resolution claiming that the case for war with Iraq is "unproven." Despite his plunging popularity for siding with the US on the Iraq issue, Blair countered with a motion asking lawmakers for support of the UN demand that the Baghdad regime disarm.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, putting the final pieces of his new coalition government together, appeared to have maneuvered chief rival Benjamin Netanyahu out of the Cabinet. Netanyahu, who was foreign minister in Sharon's last administration, was asked to trade places with Finance Minister Silvan Shalom, but refused. He and Sharon are both leaders of the Likud Party. Sharon is expected to seek parliament's OK of his new Cabinet Thursday.

An armed Muslim militant was arrested by security guards as he tried to enter a hospital in Yemen run by Baptist missionaries, authorities reported. They said the incident happened last Thursday and that the suspect admitted membership in a terrorist cell that targets Westerners. Last December, three Americans were shot to death and a fourth was seriously wounded by a suspected Muslim extremist in the same clinic.

Hindu nationalist groups were distributing defensive weapons to their followers, and heavy police guards were expected around temples and transportation facilities as India's Gujarat state braced for the anniversary of the attack that led to some of the nation's worst sectarian violence. In the Feb. 27, 2002, incident, Muslims set fire to a train, killing 60 Hindus. In counterattacks, 1,000 people died. More than 130 Muslims await trial for the fire, and 10,300 people on both sides are charged with murder, arson, and other crimes in the violence that followed.

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