With details of Iraq's weapons declaration gradually leaking out, the Baghdad government bitterly accused the Bush administration of "unprecedented extortion" in demanding the only copy submitted to the UN. It also claimed the US might "forge" portions of the documents as a cover for attacking Iraq militarily. Buried in the declaration was the assertion by a senior commander that Iraq was close to building a nuclear bomb in the early 1990s. Meanwhile, a former UN weapons inspector said the table of contents alone "seems to confirm" that much of the declaration is "recycled."

TV stations and newspapers whose coverage is seen as favorable to the political opposition in Venezuela were under siege by supporters of President Hugo Chávez as the general strike aimed at toppling him from power entered its ninth day. Station owners in Caracas and four other cities protested what they called coordinated government intimidation. Without indicating where Chávez himself stands, the Organization of American States - which is attempting to mediate the crisis - said the government was ready to discuss "a timetable" for a new presidential election.

Chanting, "We want uniforms," thousands of young Ivory Coast men answered the government's call for volunteers to join the Army, whose hands are full trying to deal with a 2-1/2-month insurgency by mutinying troops. Due to the urgency of the situation, those accepted would be given half the usual training, an Army spokesman said. Despite a truce, the rebels are believed preparing for new offensives, and peace talks have produced little progress.

A plan to return 1.8 million refugees home over the next three years was agreed to by negotiators for Afghanistan and Pakistan. They said that would result in the closing of almost all camps on Pakistan's side of the border; another 1 million people who fled Afghanistan are in similar camps in Iran. Since January, about 1.5 million Afghans have returned from Pakistan, although aid agencies complain that their war-torn homeland isn't ready to absorb them.

A Cuban stowaway was being treated for exposure to subzero temperatures in Montreal after escaping the communist-run island in the wheel well of a passenger jet. But the unidentified man was confined to jail pending a ruling on his application for political refugee status. The escape took place last Friday on a flight from Havana. Few such attempts are successful since wheel-well temperatures can drop to minus-40 degrees F. in flight, experts said.

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