World

Heads of the member nations in the European Union appeared on a collision course at their two-day conference in Brussels, with the main agenda item for Friday already generating angry reaction Thursday. The summit was seen as an opportunity for the leaders to achieve renewed unity over the proposed EU constitution, which was rejected by French and Dutch voters in recent weeks. Britain subsequently suspended its ratification vote, and Denmark, Portugal, and Luxembourg are considered possibilities to do the same. But the greater source of irritation was disagreement over the bloc's $120 billion annual budget, much of which depends on sacrifices that member nations have been unwilling to make.

The former chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards dropped out of the presidential election late Wednesday on the advice of senior clerics. Mohsen Rezaei was believed to have little hope of winning. But of the eight candidates in the field, he was among the four hardest of the hard-liners, and he said the mullahs were worried that the presence of so many risked splitting the conservative vote. Friday's election is widely expected to come down to former President Hashemi Rafsanjani, and ex-Culture Minister Mustafa Moin. But analysts say Moin must hope for a large turnout among young voters, many of whom have said they'll boycott the election.

Shiites and Sunnis reached a deal on the makeup of the committee that will draft Iraq's new constitution. The compromise, which ends weeks of deadlock that had threatened to derail the vital process, will add 15 more Sunnis to the two already on the committee. Ten other Sunnis will serve in a strictly advisory capacity.

Security forces captured four masked gunmen who'd seized an international school in the Cambodian resort city of Siem Reap but not before the latter executed a three-year-old boy. The child, a Canadian, was shot after authorities met only some of the attackers' demands. Forty other children at the school were rescued unharmed.

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