Whether Iraq's Ambassador to the UN will be given the opportunity to rebut Secretary of State Powell's presentation to the Security Council Wednesday was being considered by its 15 members as of Tuesday morning. Powell already has said his material will show no "smoking gun," but it is believed likely to include evidence that the Baghdad government has hidden caches of banned weapons of mass destruction and has defied UN orders to disarm. An unidentified US official said, "If the Iraqis want to speak, we think they should."

There will be no change in the position of the French government on war with Iraq - at least until UN inspectors there are given as much time as they say they need to continue their work, President Jacques Chirac told visiting British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chirac said they shared the conviction that disarming Saddam Hussein's regime "has to be undertaken within the Security Council." Blair's goal was to persuade Chirac to support a new UN resolution authorizing force against Iraq.

In an apparent about-face, rebel leaders in Ivory Coast ruled out concessions on their controversial peace accord with the government in order to hasten its acceptance. A rebel spokesman had said Monday that his side "could" agree to take the Defense Ministry's No. 2 post in a new power-sharing government instead of the top job, since the latter proposal angers supporters of President Laurent Gbagbo. Diplomats, however, said a compromise that would put politically neutral Prime Minister Seydou Diarra in charge of defense still might be agreeable to the rebels.

A formal apology by the government of Cambodia for last week's anti-Thai riots is satisfactory "to some extent," Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said. But he warned that relations between their countries will take time to become normal again. Damage to diplomatic property alone is estimated at $46.5 million, not counting looted and burned Thai businesses. The rioting was triggered by an unsubstantiated report that a Thai TV star had accused Cambodia of stealing the famous Angkor Wat temple.

The highest-profile radical Muslim cleric in Britain said he'd ignore an order dismissing him as leader of his London mosque. The commission governing the mosque, which had suspended Abu Hamza al-Masri last year, announced it was making that move permanent because of his "inappropriate political statements." Hamza has called on Allah to destroy the US, has praised the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and cheered last weekend's Columbia shuttle disaster. One of his followers was convicted "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. Last month, police raided the mosque as part of an investigation into the discovery of ricin poison in a nearby apartment.

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