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The policy speech by Palestinian Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas, as he asked for a vote of confidence for his new cabinet, augurs well for future peace with Israel, the latter's foreign ministry said. Abbas pledged that only security services would carry weapons under his administration and that he'd end corruption in Palestinian ranks. He also rebuffed terrorism as hurtful to the Palestinian cause. But Hamas and Islamic Jihad were quick to reject his goals. The vote was being taken in the Legislative Council as the Monitor went to press.

As many as 4,000 military police and infantrymen will be sent to Baghdad to help with security arrangements, US commanders said. They denied the move was linked to a specific incident, although there have been several anti-American demonstrations in recent days. In the latest, US troops returned fire at a protest 30 miles west of the capital late Monday, killing at least seven people, news accounts said.

North Korea's leadership said further discussions with the US on its nuclear ambitions appear pointless, adding that the Bush administration's response to its offer to halt nuclear activity was "ridiculous jargon of political imbeciles." In talks with the US last week, North Korea offered to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for such rewards as diplomatic recognition and substantial economic benefits. The State Department called the concessions unacceptable.

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There was new hope for a resumption of peace efforts between India and Pakistan after the latter's prime minister offered dialogue "to resolve outstanding issues" between their governments. Zafarullah Khan Jamali was following up a proposal last week by his Indian counterpart, Atal Behari Vajpayee, for new talks, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said. India's information minister called the gesture "a good start [that] we hope will help ease tension." Still, India announced a new test-firing of its most sophisticated medium-range missile, which can carry a nuclear warhead.

In ceremonies today, the presidency of Burundi is to change hands from a Tutsi to a Hutu, who'll serve for the next 18 months and then step aside for a national election. The two ethnic groups agreed to the power-sharing deal in 2000 in the hope it would end years of civil war. But Hutu rebels did not sign the accord, and fighting has continued, with 14 more people dying in their attacks on civilian targets in the past week.

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