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By Compiled from wire service reports by Robert Kilborn and Ross Atkin / February 17, 2004



Another of the most wanted remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq was captured, and US administrator Paul Bremer repeated his intention to veto any effort to make Islam the basis of postwar law. He spoke as some Iraqi women lobbied for more than the token representation they worry would be offered them in a transitional government if Islamic law is insisted upon by members of the interim Guardian Council. Women are a majority of Iraq's population. Meanwhile, police arrested Muhamad Ziman Abd al-Razzaq al-Sadun, a senior Baath Party member and No. 41 on the most-wanted list. Eleven of the 55 people on that list remain at large.

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Both sides said they were satisfied with the opening day of formal peace talks between India and Pakistan, which centered on Kashmir. The negotiations in Islamabad, Pakistan's capital, are the first in 2-1/2 years and are aimed at reviving a "composite dialogue" first agreed to in 1997 and covering eight areas of dispute. They began with relatively low-level officials but are scheduled to build to a meeting Tuesday between the respective foreign secretaries, one rank below cabinet level.

Would-be reformers of Iran's rigid political system conceded they'll lose their majority in parliament in Friday's national election. The vote will be held at the government's insistence despite the disqualifications of 2,500 so-called reformist candidates, a boycott by the leading opposition party, and predictions that turnout at the polls may not reach 15 percent.

Racial tensions were growing in Australia's largest city after a nine-hour riot triggered by allegations that police had chased an aboriginal teenager to his death. Forty police were hurt Sunday night in a clash in an impoverished Sydney neighborhood in which they were pelted with bricks, gasoline bombs, and fireworks. A railroad station and at least one car were set on fire. Four arrests were reported, and police said they had identified other rioters and were hunting them.

The third set of disasters in three months in China brought a demand by the government for "great attention to safety work" in every place of business and anywhere else people gather. Within hours Sunday, fires erupted in a temple southwest of Shanghai and in a crowded shopping mall in northeastern China, killing a combined 93 people. Earlier this month, 37 others died in a chaotic Lunar New Year festival in Beijing. In December, a gas well exploded in western China, killing 243.

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