A West Bank "settlement" consisting of two uninhabited trailers was dismantled by Israeli soldiers in the first move to fulfill Prime Minister Sharon's pledge to work for peace with the Palestinians. News outlets said 13 other such outposts would follow in the next few days, but angry settler leaders vowed to "return the night after and establish 10" more. Meanwhile, new Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said despite the refusal of militant groups such as Hamas to renounce terrorism, he would under no circumstances attempt to deal with them by force.

In its bid to become stronger, the European Union took one step forward, but a second step back. Final results from Poland showed an overwhelming 77.5 percent of voters in a weekend referendum backed their country's admission to the bloc next year. With 39 million people, Poland will account for more than half the newcomers to the EU among the 10 mostly ex-communist states slated to join in May. But in Britain, Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown announced his government's long-awaited decision on dropping the pound in favor of the single EU currency, the euro, saying the time was not yet right.

Communist North Korea needs nuclear weapons so that its huge conventional military can be downsized and the funds spent on it diverted to improving "the living standards of the people," an official commentary said. It also said the nuclear deterrent was necessary because of the "hostile policy" of the US. But Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage was quoted as projecting multilateral talks on the North's nuclear program within two months. He said the Pyongyang government's insistence on direct negotiations with the US appeared to be weakening steadily.

Tamil rebels said they'd have to study an offer by Sri Lanka's prime minister to rewrite the constitution, granting their demand for an interim regional authority over the northeastern section of the island nation. The offer by Ranil Wickremesinghe came in opening remarks at a conference of donors to rebuild Sri Lanka after decades of civil war. Pledges quickly topped the $2 billion goal, but were conditional on concrete steps toward peace.

Helicopters were evacuating Americans and other Western nationals from the capital of Liberia as rebels attempting to topple President Charles Taylor probed closer to the city center. Reports said forces loyal to Taylor repelled one advance late Sunday, but they otherwise controlled little of the West African nation. The rebels were counting down the 72-hour ultimatum they gave Taylor to leave office, and it was unclear whether scheduled last-ditch peace talks would take place.

Hospitals struggled to cope with the casualties from a two-day-old coup attempt against Mauritanian President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya, as fighting in the capital, Nouakchott, resumed after an overnight lull. But in a national broadcast, Taya claimed "complete" victory. The rebels are believed to be military units angered at his crackdown on militant Islam.

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