World

Iraqi leaders reacted in low-key fashion to comments by senior US officials that terrorism may not be brought under control for another decade - and that it would be up to their forces to defeat it. Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari said it was not possible to predict how long it would take to halt attacks, and a senior member of parliament predicted that US forces would not leave Iraq. Ex-interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, who's trying to organize a conference on solutions to end terrorism, said force alone was not the answer.

Their legal avenues exhausted, Israelis turned to new public protests Monday to try to stop this summer's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Tens of thousands of people jammed highways to try to influence public opinion against the pullout, some holding up banners that read: "Stop! Think Again!" In Gaza itself, settlers set up a makeshift outpost on the rubble of buildings knocked down earlier by the military that they said would house thousands of people brought in to help resist the withdrawal.

Saying, "I regret taking so long to speak before you on this matter," Philippines President Gloria Arroyo confessed to a lapse in judgment in telling elections officials she wanted a 1 million-vote victory margin in last year's election. But she denied rigging the vote and said she wouldn't resign. Her opponents said the nationally televised speech only raised new questions; they vowed legal steps against her.

In an apparent divide between legislators and a large segment of voters, key political blocs in Lebanon said they'll support the reelection of pro-Syrian Nabih Berri as Speaker of parliament. Berri, a Shiite, has close ties to Hizbullah, the guerrilla organization that won more than 80 percent of the Shiite vote in the May 29-June 19 national elections. Shiites largely kept out of the anti-Syrian protests that followed the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. An anti-Syrian alliance led by Hariri's son won a majority in parliament in the election.

Almost $40 billion will be spent on a building spree to ensure that Beijing is ready to stage the 2008 Olympics, China's official Xinhua news agency said. The spending plan dwarfs the combined budgets for operating the games and for constructing new venues, such as arenas: about $4 billion. Xinhua said more than half of the spending would go for transportation systems.

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