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Iraq's leaders have agreed to a timeline of measures to quell the spiraling violence there, US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Tuesday. He cited such steps as changes to the Constitution, disbanding sectarian militias, and economic and security advances and predicted "significant progress in the coming 12 months." But he also said some of the steps will require difficult decisions by "key political forces." At the same news briefing in Baghdad, US commanding Gen. George Casey told reporters that Iraq's military should be in position to assume full responsibility over the entire country in "another 12 to 18 months." Against that backdrop, however, American troops were searching intensively for a missing translator of Iraqi descent who is believed to have been kidnapped Monday in central Baghdad.

The same conditions that led to three weeks of rioting in France last fall are still in place and could spawn new violence on or around the first anniversary, a leaked government intelligence study warns. The report, obtained by the Paris newspaper Le Figaro, says tensions among young, nonwhite male immigrants are particularly high in the Clichy-sous-Bois suburb where the deaths of two youths last Oct. 27 triggered the unrest. At least five attacks on police or other symbols of state authority have been reported in recent weeks, the latest of them last Sunday.

Calm returned to the capital of Hungary early Tuesday following the violence that marred ceremonies commemorating the 50th anniversary of the revolt against communist rule. But police said reinforcements who were rushed to Budapest from elsewhere in the country would remain there for the time being to help "guarantee law and order." City officials put property damage from the rioting by antigovernment protesters at just under $1 million, and 167 people reportedly were treated for injuries – 17 of them policemen.

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A resolution has been drafted that denounces the US for its plan to add hundreds of miles of fencing to the border with Mexico, the latter's ambassador to the UN Human Rights Council said. Luis Alfonso de Alba, the current president of the 47-member council, said the document would be presented at its next meeting. It accuses the US of violating the rights of would-be illegal immigrants by forcing them to cross the border at remote, dangerous points, he said. President Bush has yet to sign legislation authorizing the fence but has pledged to do so despite pleas from Mexico for a veto.

With yet another vote expected Thursday to fill Latin America's seat on the UN Security Council, Guatemala's government said it is open to a compromise candidate. But Foreign Minister Gert Rosenthal told reporters that Guatemala would back away from contention only if rival Venezuela also does. Uruguay, Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic have been mentioned as possibilities. Thirty-five rounds of voting have failed to give either contender a two-thirds majority, although Guatemala has consistently finished well ahead. Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has said his country is in the race to stay.

The outspoken prime minister of Australia refused to back down after criticism from Pacific island leaders that his government has been insensitive and disrespectful to them. At a regional forum, John Howard rejected the claim as "almost laughable" and repeated his call for Australia's $1 billion in annual aid to their small nations "to be spent wisely." The feud stems from the alleged involvement of the Solomon Islands' attorney-general in a child sex-abuse case in his native Australia. The suspect evaded Australian police via a clandestine flight to Papua New Guinea and then returned to the Solomons. Australia has asked for his extradition.

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