The White House rejected the idea of pledging not to attack North Korea. On Monday, the Pyongyang regime said unless the US "legally committed itself to nonaggression," it would not give up its nuclear weapons programs. White House spokesman Scott McClellan said that while the US would continue to seek a diplomatic solution, "all options remain on the table."

"The more people involved in Iraq, the better off we will be," President Bush said at his Texas ranch Monday, where he wrapped up a visit with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. He said he's working to persuade more nations to help in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein loyalists are fighting a guerrilla war. Bush also accused the governments of Syria and Iran of harboring terrorists, who he called the greatest obstacle to Mideast peace.

The Bush administration is reaching out to its Republican allies in Congress in an effort to counter criticism of the president's Iraq policy and his use of widely questioned intelligence to advance the case for toppling Saddam Hussein. With the president's job approval ratings slipping - and US casualties in Iraq climbing - White House communications director Dan Bartlett went to Capitol Hill Monday to urge Republicans to emphasize positive aspects of the broader war against terrorism, officials said.

Despite GOP opposition in the House, ailing AmeriCorps may receive as much as $100 million extra this year. The House Appropriations Committee voted 34-24 Monday, largely along party lines, to reject a Democratic effort to provide the funding. But the committee's chairman, Bill Young (R) of Florida, said a House-Senate compromise bill would provide some funds. The Senate voted July 11 to provide an additional $100 million to AmeriCorps.

Lawyers for lifestyle guru Martha Stewart asked a federal court in New York to order an investigation into how details of her indictment made it into news reports even before a grand jury brought the charges. US District Judge Mirriam Goldman Cedarbaum did not immediately grant the request, but said she would consider it.

The father of two missing New Hampshire children was charged with their murder. The indictment, announced Monday, said Manuel Gehring shot them sometime around July 4. He was arrested July 10 in Gilroy, Calif., and later was escorted to New Hampshire by the FBI.

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