World

Prospects appeared uncertain at best for the opening today of a major UN fundraising conference for Iraqi reconstruction. US officials weren't saying how much they hoped the dozens of participating nations would pledge, and host Spain's foreign minister said the aim of the two-day session was to "give the image" of international commitment. On the sidelines, more than 220 private businesses from around the world are expected to discuss investment opportunities with Iraqi officials. (Stories, pages 1, 2.)

Spurning a new UN resolution demanding the removal of their West Bank security barrier, Israeli leaders said it "will continue being built, and we will go on taking care of the security of [our] citizens." The nonbinding measure, drafted by the Palestinian envoy, passed the General Assembly by a 144-to-4 vote. The US voted "no." The European Union, a cosponsor of the road map to Middle East peace, voted "yes." (Story, page 7; editorial, page 8.)

The day-old moves to revive the peace process in Northern Ireland were already in trouble, as the province's main Protestant political party demanded full details of the latest disarmament by the Irish Republican Army. The British government, which set Nov. 26 for long- delayed elections to choose a new Protestant-Catholic government, said the date would be kept but that it couldn't reveal the IRA "decommissioning" details. Protestant Ulster Unionist Party leaders and Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, were meeting in Belfast to try to find common ground in overcoming the snag.

President Bush, nearing the end of his Asian tour, brushed aside North Korea's rejection of multilateral security guarantees and said its leader was unworthy of respect for "letting his people starve." Arriving in Australia, Bush said it will require patience and resolve to coax North Korea to abandon it nuclear weapons program. The North called the concept of security guarantees "laughable."

In a major diplomatic initiative, India's government offered wide-ranging proposals for normal relations with rival Pakistan, such as talks with leaders of the separatist movement in disputed Kashmir. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry pledged "serious consideration" but expressed "disappointment" that India hadn't accepted its offer of "sustained dialogue to resolve all issues." Among other points, the Indian proposals cover expanded transportation services between their countries and embassy staffing in each capital.

A secret "nuclear cooperation" deal was reached between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the Washington Times reported, citing as its source a "ranking Pakistani insider." The source said the de facto Saudi ruler agreed to trade his nation's oil at a discount for Pakistani weapons technology. The source said: "It will be vehemently denied by both countries, but future events will confirm [it]."

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