World

France, Russia, and Germany, three members of the UN Security Council, said they would not allow passage of a new resolution authorizing war with Iraq. Their foreign ministers, meeting in Paris, said they agreed to back more weapons inspections. France and Russia hold veto power; Germany doesn't, but currently sits on the Council as a rotating member. Earlier in the day, a weekly newspaper, LeCanard, quoted French President Jacques Chirac as telling a private gathering Feb. 26 that a veto would be pointless because the US appeared intent on going to war anyway.

A Palestinian set off a bomb aboard or just outside a bus in Haifa, Israel, killing at least 15 people and wounding dozens of others in the first attack of its type in two months. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Prime Minister Ariel Sharon blamed Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority. Sharon's government did not indicate how it would respond.

The election for new members of the power-sharing Protestant/Catholic Northern Ireland Assembly was postponed from May 1 to May 29, British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced. The delay was implemented to give the parties to talks on a final sectarian peace settlement more time to consult with their constituencies and to offer the Irish Republican Army a new opportunity to formally renounce violence and surrender the bulk of its weapons. The assembly currently stands suspended, in part because of the discovery of IRA spying on it.

Two more victims of Tuesday's terrorist bombing in the southern Philippines died, brining the number to 21, and another blast rocked a store Wednesday. But although the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf claimed responsibility for the first attack, President Gloria Arroyo said US troops would not be permitted to go into combat against it.

A 49-page plan to put the brakes on Zimbabwe's economic collapse is to be released Thursday, the finance ministry said. But as details leaked, business executives and analysts greeted it with skepticism and scorn. The plan calls for "home-grown solutions" such as higher interest rates, partial devaluation of the dollar for exporters, and easing restrictions on imports. Inflation has soared to 209 percent and joblessness to 60 percent; most foreign aid has stopped; production of the main cash crop, tobacco, fallen by half; and tourism is off by more than 70 percent because of political violence and the government's land-seizure program.

Unidentified gunmen murdered a prominent Nigerian opposition leader in his own home, rousing worries of an explosion of violence as next month's national election approaches. The victim, Marshall Harry, had quit the ruling People's Democratic Party last year to help the rival All Nigeria People's Party deny President Olusegun Obasanjo a new four-year term in the April 19 voting.

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