Opponents of war with Iraq were cheered by France's announcement at the UN that it will not support an attack and Turkey's denial of a published report that the US may use its bases if combat became unavoidable. France might use its UN Security Council veto to prevent passage of a new resolution on the use of force, its ambassador said. However, Ambassador Dominique de Villepin was careful to distinguish between the use of force "today" and in the future, an option he did not rule out. And Turkey's foreign minister, disputing a New York Times story, said he'd only told the newspaper that permission had been granted for a discussion of the issue of stationing American troops "at the technical level." Turkey is to stage a meeting of Middle Eastern foreign ministers this week to seek ways that war might be averted.

Foreign residents of oil-rich Kuwait admitted fearing for their safety after an American civilian died and another was wounded when their vehicle was sprayed with automatic weapons fire at a stoplight. There was no immediate claim of responsibility, and the attacker was unknown. Both victims were civilian contractors who worked for the US forces stationed in the sheikhdom. The ambush was the third blamed on extremists there since last Oct. 8, but the first against civilians. More than 15,000 US troops already are in Kuwait in anticipation of war with neighboring Iraq, with more arriving each week.

The leader of the opposition Labor Party refused to drop out of next week's crucial election in Israel despite late opinion polls showing he's in for a crushing defeat. Under Amram Mitzna, Labor likely would win only 19 seats in parliament, to 30 for the Likud Party of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the poll found. But if Mitzna were replaced on the ballot by Shimon Peres, who has held all of Israel's top offices over his long political career, Labor would win 29 seats, the poll showed.

The pilots of oil tankers have decided to end their participation in Venezuela's national strike, shipping agents said. The move was described as the first crack in the seven-week-old work stoppage that has wracked the nation, although other workers in the crucial oil industry planned to try to persuade the pilots to reverse their decision. Even so, a spokeswoman for the strikers said, 90 percent of the industry remains idle.

Government officials and opposition leaders blamed each other for the Monday night firebombing of a ruling party office in a suburb of Zimbabwe's capital. One person died; seven others were hurt. Police said they arrested 16 of an estimated 50 attackers who arrived at the scene aboard trucks. Tensions in Zimbabwe are high, especially in the area of the attack, where a date has not yet been set for a special election to replace an opposition member of parliament who died last fall while in police custody.

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