Pressure from the US, Japan – and even from the interim leader of neighboring Afghan-istan – was being exerted on the parties to the Kashmir dispute to back away from the brink of war. But Pakistan's new ambassador to the UN said his government had never subscribed to the doctrine of "no first use" of its nuclear weapons against India. To do so, Munir Akram said, would give India "a license to kill." And President Pervez Musharraf said he was "very seriously considering" withdrawal of some Pakistani troops from the border with Afghanistan to reinforce the Kashmir front "if the tensions remain as high as they are now." (Related story, page 1; editorial, page 10.)

In the latest violence in Kashmir, three Indian police officers died and five others were wounded when their post was attacked by Islamic militants. The militants also were killed in an ensuring gunfight. If such actions do not stop, the chief state minister for the Indian sector of Kashmir said, "a major conflict" between the two nations is inevitable.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon picked up important new political support, with the maverick Shas Party agreeing to drop its opposition to his emergency austerity plan – virtually ensuring its return to his governing coalition. Sharon fired Shas's Cabinet ministers and those of a rival ultra-Orthodox party May 20, a move that sharply reduced his 82-seat majority in parliament and triggered an internal political crisis.

The last non-American hostage being held by Muslim guerrillas in the southern Philippines – a Filipina nurse – will be released "at any moment," her captors said. The Abu Sayyaf group's leader said she had rendered assistance to his followers. But he didn't mention American missionaries Gracia and Martin Burnham, who've been in Abu Sayyaf custody for more than a year. The guerrillas denied the assertion, made in an interview with Burnham family members, that they'd been paid a ransom in March for the couple but then reneged on freeing them.

An early low voter turnout appeared likely to hold in Algeria, which was choosing a new parliament for only the second time since the cancellation of the 1992 election that fundamentalist Muslims were poised to win. Two leading opposition parties were boycotting the vote, which also was overshadowed by the massacre of 23 nomads in an area where the extremist Armed Islamic Group is known to operate. And riot police were clashing with protesters demonstrating for more rights for Algeria's Berber minority.

Ten years after helping to end the nation's dictatorship, church leaders in Malawi asked the Supreme Court to quash efforts that would make a third five-year term possible for President Bakili Muluzi. His current term ends in 2004, and he is constitutionally barred from seeking reelection. But parliament is due to debate legislation today that would amend the charter at the behest of his United Democratic Party. Church leaders also hoped to organize a prayer campaign against the amendment, but Muluzi threatened the use of force against "anybody demonstrating for or against the third term."

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