The US must not have "concrete information" on illegal Iraqi weapons programs because "if they had, they would have put it on television around the world" by now, an influential Baghdad newspaper said. At the same time, a key adviser to Saddam Hussein said the Baghdad government is ready to answer "each" of the questions raised by the Western allies about its required weapons declaration to the UN "if you ask us." And Trade Minister Mohamad Mehdi Saleh pledged "any extent of cooperation" with the UN to "reveal to the world that the Americans are lying."

The first of three fuel tankers seized by Venezuelan authorities over the weekend was moved to a dock for unloading as the government of President Hugo Chávez began fighting back against a nationwide general strike, now in its third week. The Defense Ministry also announced that the Army would enforce a court order that employees of the vital oil industry return to their jobs. The industry has been reduced to less than 10 percent of capacity by the strike, leaving the nation with fast-dwindling supplies of gasoline. Almost 40 other tankers remain anchored offshore.

In a new gesture of defiance, North Korea confirmed that workers have removed UN monitoring equipment at its nuclear facilities. A Pyongyang government statement said the move was made "for their normal operation to produce electricity." It said the UN had not responded to a demand that the surveillance cameras be removed. The cameras had been in place since the early 1990s. Earlier this month, North Korea said it plans to restart nuclear reactors idled since 1994.

Next month's election for new Palestinian leadership was postponed indefinitely because of "Israeli reoccupation, obstruction, and closures" of areas of the West Bank. A statement by Yasser Arafat's cabinet said the vote would be held "immediately after occupation forces pull back" to positions held before the current intifada began in September 2000. Israeli officials said no pullback would take place until the intifada ends, and they contended that, with Arafat almost certain to win, no real reform in the Palestinian leadership would have resulted from the voting anyway.

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