A day after refusing to meet with a delegation of Iraqi government officials, radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr agreed to end his uprising and leave the shrine in Najaf where he has been holed up, Reuters quoted his spokesman as saying. The word came as time was expiring on a deadline given by the Defense Ministry for Sadr's fighters to surrender or be assaulted in the Imam Ali Mosque by Iraqi troops and taught "a lesson they'll never forget." Above, Hussein al-Sadr, a cousin of the cleric and leader of the delegation, approaches the shrine.
Beleaguered Yasser Arafat admitted to "wrong actions" by some senior Palestinians, to "official corruption," and "not enough efforts to strengthen the rule of law." But the Palestinian Authority president didn't offer details or say what was being done to correct such problems. The admission was rare, since he included himself in the indictment, and it came amid growing dissatisfaction in Palestinian ranks with his rule. Arafat, however, placed the blame for the chaos on a "security vacuum" caused by Israel.
Amid the tightest security measures in memory, eight alleged Muslim terrorist suspects made their first court appearance in Britain to hear the charges against them: conspiracy to murder; conspiracy to "cause a public nuisance" through the use of radioactive materials, poison gases, chemicals, or explosives; and possession of plans to carry out attacks in the US. Their trial tentatively is set for September of next year.
Airlifts of 100 tons of emergency food aid a day into western Sudan were to begin for the "conflict-affected people" of Darfur. But heavy rains and the fact that the number of those displaced by the violence has grown to 1.48 million means relief efforts are approaching the "critical stage," World Food Program officials said. Meanwhile, other UN officials said they were "very much concerned" at Sudan's lack of progress in implementing security measures in Darfur. The government has until the end of the month to prove it is disarming marauding Muslim militiamen who've been targeting Darfur residents. Otherwise, Sudan could be hit with economic sanctions by the UN.
International monitors watched as elections officials began a random check of results from polling stations in Venezuela's controversial referendum on the rule of President Hugo Chávez. It was being conducted following the refusal of Chávez opponents to accept the one-sided outcome in his favor. Despite agreeing to stay for the review, Organization of American States chief César Gaviria said the losing side "needs to accept the democratic result" and move on.