US embassies in four mostly Muslim countries closed for at least two days, largely out of concern that supporters of Osama bin Laden might use the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to attempt new ones. In Malaysia, an embassy spokesman cited a "specific and credible" threat. The US Embassy and a consulate in Indonesia also were shut, despite the national police chief's protest that there was nothing to worry about. The embassy in Pakistan was closed "to be prudent." And in Bahrain, the closed embassy cautioned Americans there to vary their routines and avoid congregating with each other in large numbers.

Iraq wants to do business with the US, its government said, but if it comes under attack "the Arab masses" should hit back at American lives and property "wherever they are." Foreign Minister Naji Sabri also accused the US of "closing the doors" on all possible efforts at a peaceful solution to the weapons standoff. Meanwhile, in Britain, Prime Minister Tony Blair said in a speech that "action will follow" if the Baghdad government continues to ignore international demands for a resumption of weapons inspections.

In a murky three-page statement, Yasser Arafat's Fatah organization said it opposes – and is pledging to "prevent" – new attacks on Israeli civilians. But while optimists saw the statement as a small opening for a truce, there was confusion over whether it was a final version. It also hinted that Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip would remain targets, and from his jail cell inside Israel, Fatah chief Marwan Barghouti protested that the organization reserved the right to continue resisting "the Israeli occupation."

Over the objection of opposition parties, Nepal's Cabinet members were to decide as soon as Wednesday whether to reimpose a state of emergency after two massacres this week by communist rebels that killed more than 100 police and soldiers. Emergency rule was imposed last November and then renewed twice before expiring last month. Opponents argue that bringing it back would undercut the national election scheduled for Nov. 13.

Senior government officials were disputing whether sabotage was the cause of a late-night train derailment in eastern India that killed at least 80 people. Reports said 180 others were hurt. The high-speed, air-conditioned train, one of the nation's most luxurious, was en route from Calcutta to New Delhi when it jumped the tracks in an area where communist guerrillas are active. The latter have a history of sabotaging railroad tracks, police said, but have not previously targeted passenger trains.

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