Despite their government's backing for US military operations in Afghanistan, officials of the military and secret service in Pakistan are supplying weapons, fuel, and other help to the Taliban, a published report said. Citing US officials, The Washington Times said it was not clear whether the assistance had the OK of President Pervez Musharraf or was taking place behind his back. Meanwhile, in his first known communiqué in weeks, Osama bin Laden issued a new call for Pakistani Muslims to defend Islam against a "Christian crusade," reports said. And the hopes of other Islamic nations that anti-Taliban attacks in Afghanistan would be suspended for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan were rejected by US officials and by the opposition Northern Alliance. (Related story, page 1.)

Enemies of Iran, whether inside or external, are "only having a bad dream" if they anticipate the collapse of the nation's hard-line Islamic hierarchy, an angry supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a rally. Iran was rocked late last month by rioting ostensibly over qualfying games for soccer's World Cup, resulting in more than 1,000 arrests. But that was followed by the confiscation of hundreds of thousands of satellite TV antennas that allowed access to channels operated by opposition groups. The regime also has vowed to punish people calling for closer ties with the US. (Related editorial, page 10.)

Embattled President Eduard Shevardnadze fired his entire cabinet, plunging formerly Soviet Georgia into political crisis. The move followed a heavily criticized raid by security forces - on suspicion of tax evasion - against an independent TV station that led to calls for three top cabinet ministers to resign. Shevardnadze did not announce his own resignation but said he'd be "guilty as well" if parliament forced his aides out.

Minus his old leftist revolutionary rhetoric and the Army fatigue uniform that once was his trademark, Sandinista Party leader Daniel Ortega ended his campaign to return to the presidency of Nicaragua in front of a giant American flag late Wednesday in Managua, the capital. The election will be held Sunday. Ortega, who in the 1980s battled US-supported Contra rebels, has appealed for reconciliation, telling voters "love is stronger than hate." Late opinion polls put him in a statistical tie with former Vice President Enrique Bolanos of the ruling Constitutionalist Liberal Party. (Story, page 7.)

Juan Bosch, who died in the Dominican Republic, was one of the leading leftists in the Western Hemisphere and - for seven months in 1963 - the nation's president until he was ousted in a coup. In 1965, he attempted a comeback with the help of leftists in the Army, but it was foiled by an invasion of 20,000 US marines sent by President Lyndon Johnson. In his memory, the current government declared a three-day mourning period.

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