Signs of possible dissension appeared to be surfacing in the ranks of Sunni Muslims in the wake of Iraq's historic election last weekend. The Muslim Clerics' Association declared that any government emerging as a result of the vote would be illegitimate because it was boycotted by many Sunnis. But leading secular politician Adnan Pachachi said Sunnis should make sure "that there is full participation" in follow-up elections later this year and that he would hold formal meetings with other leaders Thursday to draw up a strategy for greater involvement by the once-dominant minority in Iraqi politics. Meanwhile, the UN's chief adviser to the election said that while still relatively small, the turnout at the polls in Sunni areas was greater than expected - even in such volatile cities as Fallujah and Mosul.
Next Tuesday's summit between Israeli and Palestinian leaders will be held in Egypt and will be joined by that nation's president and by King Abdullah of Jordan, the sides confirmed. The key aim of the first face-to-face talks between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be to try to produce a mutual cease-fire. The arrival of new Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the region will lend additional pressure on the participants to achieve progress, analysts said, although it was not clear whether she also would attend.
Concerns of Roman Catholics over the health of Pope John Paul II were eased as the Vatican announced his condition had stablized after treatment Tuesday night for severe breathing difficulties. But although the pontiff was resting comfortably, he'll remain in a Rome hospital "for a few more days" as a precaution while aides assume responsibility for ordinary Vatican functions, his spokesman said.
Police chased away journalists seeking to interview deposed Nepali Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, but the nation's capital appeared otherwise calm after he and his government were fired by King Gyanendra Tuesday. The monarch, meanwhile, appointed a new 10-person cabinet consisting mainly of his own supporters but minus a replacement for Deuba. The dismissal drew international condemnation and caused cancellation of a regional conference of heads of state after neighboring India said it would send no representative in protest.