World

As if in answer to this week's conference in Brussels on the future of Iraq, terrorists exploded four more car bombs Thursday, adding at least 17 new deaths to the growing casualty toll. The blasts followed three others just before curfew in Baghdad Wednesday night, which killed 18 people. On the heels of the Brussels conference, where he won international pledges of support to help strengthen Iraqi security in the face of the relentless terrorism, Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was in Washington for meetings with President Bush and congressional leaders. The White House announced that Bush will make a major speech on Iraq Tuesday.

Two days of high-level negotiations in Seoul between North and South Korea failed to produce more than an agreement on resuming the reunions of families separated by the Demilitarized Zone and further talks on economic cooperation. A spokesman for the South Korean delegation said no "definite answer" was forthcoming from the North on a return to six- nation negotiations on the latter's nuclear weapons program. At the same time, the official North Korean news agency excoriated Bush for meeting with a high-profile defector, calling the act a deliberate "wet blanket" to efforts at organizing a new round of nuclear discussions with South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China.

Blaming the government for the recent assassinations of leading anti-Syria figures, the new majority alliance in Lebanon's parliament demanded that President Emile Lahoud resign. The coalition of political parties also called for a general strike Friday and urged a massive turnout for the funeral of the latest assassination victim, former Communist Party chief George Hawi. Lahoud is openly pro-Syrian and has vowed to remain in office until the final minute of his term, which - on orders from Syrian leaders - was extended last September until 2007.

At least 248 people were reported dead and 1 million others have had to be evacuated because of massive flooding in China, officials said. In places, conditions were being called the worst in a century. Meteorologists warned Thursday of still more torrential rains, especially over southern provinces.

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