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A fuel tanker was being unloaded at the main power plant in the Gaza Strip (above) Tuesday as Israel eased its blockade aimed at curbing rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants. The Jewish state also allowed a resupply of food, medicine, and cooking gas, but not gasoline. Still, the Red Cross warned that basic services in Gaza would remain in dire straits unless the supplies were allowed on a regular basis.

Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan was due in Nairobi Tuesday to mediate the election dispute that has brought almost a month of violence and chaos to Kenya. But his arrival was overshadowed by new violence in the streets, as police dispersed dozens of supporters of President Mwai Kibaki with tear gas. Aid agencies also claimed Kibaki's government planned to close a camp for people whose homes were destroyed in the violence.

Rebel negotiators and the government of Congo were expected to sign a new accord Tuesday declaring an end to the insurgency in the eastern sector of the vast African nation. The deal, reached after two weeks of talks, calls for both sides to pull back from some of their positions, with UN peacekeeping troops establishing a buffer zone between them.

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A new showdown loomed between the government of Zimbabwe and the opposition after the latter's application for a march through the capital Wednesday was rejected by police. The ban came despite the recent deal between the two sides easing security laws to allow political rallies ahead of the national election in March. A Movement for Democratic Change spokesman said its supporters would ignore the ban.

The military junta that seized power in Thailand 16 months ago held its final meeting Tuesday, promising no more coups but declaring that "politicians should not interfere" with the armed forces. Its spokesman said Thailand "needs a politically neutral person to be defense minister" – a reference to published reports that the leader of the party that won the Dec. 23 national election intends to assume the defense portfolio as well as the prime ministership.

Votes of confidence in embattled Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi, at his own request, are expected in both houses of Italy's parliament by Thursday after the defection of a key ally from the government. The Udeur Party, which pulled out Monday night, said it would not support Prodi. A defeat in either house would force his resignation and a new election. The rightist opposition of ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, whom Prodi narrowly defeated in an election 20 months ago, called on him to quit. Below, Prodi (c.) prepares to wade through a cluster of reporters outside parliament.

A "huge" new discovery of natural gas deep under the Atlantic Ocean was announced Monday by Brazil's state-owned oil company. The find may rival the recently discovered Tupi oil field in size, Petrobras said, although its exact dimensions have yet to be established. In November, when the Tupi field was discovered, Petrobras said it could make Brazil a world leader in energy exports. The new find is 23 miles from Tupi and 180 miles from Rio de Janeiro, the company said.

Cellphones now are made with such advanced technology that the government of Japan will license professional specialists to help consumers understand and master their various functions, reports said. The program will be administered by the private sector, and no restrictions are planned on who may sell the phones. According to year-end figures, 100 million of Japan's 127 million people subscribe to provider networks, the majority of them using third-generation, Internet-capable handsets.

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