No new UN resolution on using force against Iraq is needed "right now," France's foreign minister said, despite the US presentation to the Security Council Wednesday. German leaders also did not budge in their view that UN inspectors in Iraq need more time to do their work. Nor did fellow Security Council members Russia and China. But chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamad ElBaradei, who return to Iraq again this weekend, called their mission - to demand drastically improved cooperation with search teams - "crucial."

Replying quickly to a North Korean warning that "total war" would ensue if there were any preemptive attacks against its nuclear facilities, a Bush administration spokesman said the US was prepared for "any contingencies." The escalation in the exchange of words began Wednesday when the North's government said it was "now" putting its "peaceful" Yongbyon nuclear complex "on a normal footing." But the US, South Korea, and others worry that Yongbyon can generate only a small amount of electricity and that its real purpose is to produce weapons-grade material.

Over the protests of business owners, opposition leaders, and economists, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he'll impose price caps on essential goods and services, insisting "There will be no shortages of food or medicine." He also fixed the exchange rate for the bolivar, effective immediately, and ordered other limits on currency trading, saying they're necessary because of economic damage from the two-month nationwide strike against his rule. But business leaders said the controls are to punish strike participants by restricting their access to hard currency.

The long-awaited speech to the nation by Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo on the unpopular power-sharing accord with rebel leaders finally will be given tonight, aides said. Gbagbo initially gave his OK to the deal, which was brokered by France, but since has called its terms only "proposals" after a series of angry protests by his supporters. Meanwhile, rebel chiefs were meeting to discuss setting a deadline for Gbagbo to implement the accord and to resume fighting if he doesn't.

A fire started by a child whose parents had gone in search of food roared out of control in a camp for displaced people in Uganda, leaving more than 10,000 people homeless. The densely crowded camp for refugees from fighting between Army troops and antigovernment rebels is 250 miles north of the capital, Kampala.

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