Calling first on Israel's prime minister and then on his newly sworn-in Palestinian counterpart, US and other international diplomats presented details of the long-awaited "road map" to peace. The plan, drafted by the US, UN, European Union, and Russia, calls for an immediate truce, a crackdown on Palestinian militants, Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian towns, and the dismantling of Jewish settlements built since 2001. But in a challenge to Mahmoud Abbas, the new Palestinian prime minister, a terrorist exploded a bomb late Tuesday in Tel Aviv, killing himself and two others and injuring 55 more. Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the attack, and Hamas vowed there would be more.

In an unannounced visit to Iraq, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld thanked US and British forces for their service there, then pledged, "The coalition has no intention of owning or running" the war-torn country. But against that backdrop, US troops returned gunfire against demonstrators protesting their presence in Fallujah for the second time in three days, killing two more people. And a leading Arabic newspaper printed a letter purportedly from Saddam Hussein and dated Monday, urging Iraqis to expel the "murderous and cowardly occupier." (Stories, pages 1, 2, 6, 7.)

Ratcheting up its rhetoric against the Bush administration, North Korea suggested it has deployed nuclear weapons and warned that any American attempt to seek UN sanctions against it would be "the green light to war." Last week's face-to-face discussions on the nuclear issue, an official statement said, "proved fruitless" because of American "misbehavior," and the US should scrap its own nuclear program before "such a small country as the DPRK does." DPRK is the acronym for North Korea. But the North and rival South Korea ended four days of talks with an agreement to "continue cooperation" in trying to resolve the nuclear issue "peacefully through dialogue."

Hospitals in Beijing are overloaded with cases of SARS, and next week will be critical in determining whether its spread is being curbed, the city's acting mayor said. He told foreign journalists that mass panic "has not yet been alleviated." China reported 11 more deaths from the virus Wednesday, bringing its total to 159. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization lifted its warning against travel to Toronto, declaring the city safe.

Saying critics will have "to endure our discourse for three more years," jubilant Cuban leaders celebrated their communist-run nation's reelection to a seat on the UN Human Rights Commission. The move was uncontested, despite the Castro regime's recent crackdown on political dissidents and the execution of three men who failed to reach the US in a ferry they'd hijacked. The Bush administration called the Cuban victory "an outrage."

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