Iraqi leaders appeared unmoved by appeals from other Arab governments to yield to international pressure and readmit UN weapons inspectors. Foreign Minister Naji Sabri said he hoped the confrontation over weapons could be resolved without a new UN resolution, sought by President Bush, that would threaten military action if it was not complied with. But Sabri also told his Japanese counterpart that unconditional inspections were unacceptable because Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction.

Despite massive security precautions, police in disputed Kashmir conceded that Muslim separatist rebels were positioned in rural areas to try to disrupt today's critical state election. India's elections commission appealed to residents to vote fearlessly but also said, "None of you who does not wish to vote is forced to ..." At least 24 people have died in preelection violence, among them the state's law minister, and its tourism chief narrowly escaped an ambush Sunday.

Expectations were low for a meaningful breakthrough in the first peace negotiations in seven years between the Sri Lanka government and Tamil Tiger rebels. The talks, which open Monday in Thailand, are expected to focus on rehabilitation needs in areas wracked by almost two decades of fighting and on setting an agenda for future meetings.

A project to clear land mines along their tense border was agreed to by negotiators for the two Koreas as a first step in reconnecting a railway between their rival countries. They also agreed to set up a telephone hotline for discussing issues related to the work, reports said. A ground-breaking ceremony was scheduled for Wednesday.

Only minor incidents were reported amid the highest voter turnout in 20 years as Macedonians chose a new parliament. More than 3,300 candidates were competing for 120 seats in the final step in a peace deal that ended a violent ethnic Albanian uprising last year. Within the Albanian minority, a new party was considered a threat to become the dominant political force, edging out the Democratic Party of Albanians, which is part of the republic's governing coalition.

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