As Secretary of State Powell briefed the UN Security Council on Iraq's banned weapons programs, seven candidates for NATO membership were preparing a new declaration of support for the American position on disarming Saddam Hussein's regime. The declaration by Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, and Slovakia follows last week's appeal for unity against Iraq by eight other European leaders. Analysts say it's another blow to the efforts of France and Germany to spare Iraq from a military assault.

For the first time in more than 50 years, a road opened across the heavily fortified border between South and North Korea. It carries traffic to a resort at Mt. Kumgang, the only place in the North open to South Koreans and is one of a series of joint projects agreed to by the rival governments. Even as it opened, however, North Korea's regime vowed to counter any new US military buildup in the region. But in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Amitage said "there's no question" the US and North Korea will have a dialogue over the latter's nuclear intentions.

Differences over the control of Kashmir are open to discussion with Pakistan, a senior Indian government official said. But Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani insisted that "historically" the disputed territory is "part and parcel of India." And a colleague said the New Delhi government's policy of refusing bilateral talks on the issue unless Pakistan cracks down on Muslim militants and prevents them from infiltrating Kashmir from its territory hasn't changed.

Hundreds more soldiers were ordered by the French government to Ivory Coast as another massive protest outside its embassy there was staged by opponents of the peace deal reached with dissident Army troops. The new force will join more than 2,500 troops already in the troubled nation to protect French citizens. The deal, which sets up a power-sharing government with the rebels, was endorsed by the UN Security Council Wednesday. But ruling party members of parliament lobbied their colleagues to reject it, arguing that it "legitimizes" the four-month-old mutiny.

Work began on creating a new joint administration that will govern Serbia and Montenegro for the next three years after Yugoslavia's parliament dissolved what was left of the 85-year-old country. Under an accord brokered by the European Union, the two republics may become independent in 2006. Their loose alliance is to have a president and a 126-seat legislature.

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