All foreign extremists were ordered to leave Pakistan by President Pervez Musharraf, or "be crushed." Speaking in Lahore Thursday to a crowd estimated at 80,000 people, he said he "will not tolerate the presence of these terrorists in Pakistan." He did not refer to the ethnicity or numbers of foreign militants, but hundreds of Arabs, Afghans, Chechens, and Uzbeks are suspected of hiding in tribal regions bordering Afghanistan. Musharraf, a key ally of the US counterterrorism effort, nonetheless has been under pressure to do more to prevent extremists from using his country as a haven. In recent weeks, his forces have killed dozens of them in operations in the tribal regions.
The powerful labor unions in France were invited to meet with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin "as quickly as possible" to discuss the controversial new law that has led to daily protests across the nation. But it was unclear whether such talks would come before the general strike that the unions have called for next Tuesday. The unions have demanded that the law be rescinded, but de Villepin has refused. Meanwhile, the news- paper Le Parisien, quoting a government source, said the prime minister would be fired by President Jacques Chirac "if things don't change very quickly."
An aide to opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich was reported in serious condition in a Belarus hospital Thursday after being clubbed by unidentified attackers, a spokesman said. The beating took place in the doorway of an apartment building in Minsk, the capital, after state-run TV played a recording of a purported telephone conversation between him and someone with a Polish organization that sponsors pro-democracy activities in Belarus. The broadcast said they were discussing how to prolong the protests against the reelection of hard-line President Alexander Lukashenko. Luka-shenko was officially declared the winner Thursday, defeating Milinkevich by a margin of 83 percent to 6 percent.
Embattled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of Thailand picked up new support for remaining in office in an opinion poll Thursday, even as leaders of the campaign to oust him said they'll ask the nation's monarch to appoint a replacement. The poll showed a 20-point drop - to 28 percent - among respondents who said they wanted Thaksin to quit. Eight out of 10 also said they wanted round-the-clock anti-Thaksin protests in the streets of Bangkok to end. Although another is scheduled for Saturday, the Army's chief of staff said he advised against deploying troops, which "would only undermine the credibility of the government."
In its second public statement in two days, the Basque separatist organization ETA again committed itself to a "permanent" cease-fire and called on the governments of Spain and France to join it in peace negotiations. ETA said the cease-fire would go into effect at midnight Thursday. But as government leaders and the public reacted cautiously to the announcement, a Basque newspaper sympathetic to the ETA cause warned that it "did not in any way mean the end of the road, but rather the complete opposite."
Relations between the US and the government of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chávez took a new downward turn after hundreds of the president's supporters blockaded Ambassador William Brownfield and his aides inside a building. The incident took place Wednesday as Brownfield was visiting a town 50 miles from Caracas, the capital. The region's governor said the Chávez supporters, who chanted curses, burned tires and the US flag, and set off firecrackers, "were asking [Brownfield] to leave, that's all." But a US Embassy spokesman said "they weren't about to move, and ... [the ambassador] believed the protests were potentially violent." Eventually, police cleared a path for him to leave.