World

Despite relentless terrorist violence, Iraq still can hold "credible" elections by the end of January, the UN's top expert on the matter said. But Carlos Valenzuela's optimism was overshadowed by revelations that "approximately 350 tons" of conventional weapons are missing from a onetime government military facility 30 miles south of Baghdad because of an apparent lack of security. A spokeswoman for the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said it was unclear when the weapons disappeared or in whose hands they may be now.

In a presentation frequently interrupted by hecklers, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon asked parliament to approve his controversial plan for unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank. But the proposal is so divisive that almost half the members of parliament from his own Likud movement say they'll vote against it. As Sharon spoke, Israeli defense forces conducted another raid in Gaza in search of militants responsible for "ceaseless mortar attacks" on nearby Jewish settlements. Fourteen Palestinians were killed.

Saying, "Indefinite doesn't mean permanent," Iran's chief negotiator in talks with leading European governments indicated his country might suspend some of its nuclear activities for a period of months. But he didn't specify which activities and warned Britain, France, and Germany not to cross "our red lines" by holding out for an end to the practice of enriching uranium that could be used in building bombs. Iran insists that such enrichment is its right. On Sunday, the Tehran government rejected the Europeans' offer of help with nuclear technology for civilian applications in return for halting enrichment. But the Iranians said they still want a deal to avoid being referred to the UN next month for possible economic sanctions.

Six people died and at least a dozen others were injured as police and soldiers broke up a riot by thousands of Muslims in southern Thailand. TV news reports said as many as 400 rioters were arrested. The clash resulted in a 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew covering three provinces. The trouble began as a protest against the detention of six "village defense volunteers" for allegedly giving their government-issued guns to militants. The region has experienced repeated Islamist violence since January.

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