UN inspectors will soon verify that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction, official news media in Baghdad claimed. Still, Saddam Hussein's government asked India to send representatives to "watch the conduct of all inspectors" and ensure that their work is "honest, professional, and neutral." Meanwhile, UN inspections chief Hans Blix left two days of meetings with Iraqi officials saying Iraq had yet to "convincingly" show that its claims are correct.

Denmark and the Czech Republic became the first two NATO allies to pledge their help to President Bush in using force to disarm Iraq. The British government confirmed that it had been asked to join a possible war but had yet to respond. At the NATO meetings in Prague, European diplomats said the final communiqué likely would stop short of outright support for war and offer backing instead for the UN resolution that will return inspectors to Iraq.

Senior Palestinians hailed the newly elected head of Israel's opposition Labor Party as someone "we are ready to work with." Amram Mitzna, the mayor of Haifa, won the post on a pledge to close or rein in Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank. He easily defeated incumbent party chief Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Israel's ex-defense minister, in voting Tuesday. But opinion polls so far give Labor little hope that it can defeat the Likud movement of right-wing Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in elections Jan. 28.

Another mass protest by students against the death penalty for a popular professor in Iran's capital was called off by organizers because of "fears of clashes" with supporters of the government. They said dozens of hard-line militia members already were at the site where Wednesday's rally was to be held. In an open letter to the students, however, 160 pro- reform members of parliament urged more protests as long as they remained peaceful. But a government spokesman accused the US of meddling in Iranian affairs by suggesting that student demands for reform should be heeded.

No additional oil has leaked from the chartered tanker that broke apart and sank off the northern coast of Spain, a government spokesman said. Experts consulted by the government agreed that the millions of gallons of fuel still aboard the sunken vessel likely would solidify in the frigid Atlantic. But as crews cleaned sludge from beaches, authorities were watching for strong winds that could push the 22-mile-long slick left on the water back toward shore.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.