A national election to replace Iraq's interim government could be less than a year away, US administrator Paul Bremer suggested. Voting would follow the writing of a new Constitution, he said, and "It is certainly not unrealistic" to think that both could be accomplished by mid-2004. Plans call for the Governing Council of 25 members to cede power to an elected government. Reports did not say why Bremer, who'd previously spoken of a new government by the end of 2004, now anticipated a shortened timetable.

To the cheers of war-weary residents, the vanguard of the peacekeeping force pledged for Liberia arrived in the capital, Monrovia. It was led by Nigerian Gen. Festus Okonkwo as fighting between President Charles Taylor's forces and rebel units was heard in the distance. Another 1,500 Nigerian troops are on standby, but African leaders say they want a cease-fire between the combatants to show that it is holding first.

Four hours of meetings between negotiators for Israel and the Palestinians couldn't produce agreement on returning two West Bank cities to the latter's control. Israel offered Jericho and Qalqiliya; the Palestinians held out for larger cities, especially Ramallah, where Yasser Arafat has been contained for more than a year by Israeli troops. The Palestinians also demanded that any new withdrawal also allow them freer movement around the West Bank.

For the first time, a defendant before the UN war-crimes tribunal for the Balkans was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty for his role in establishing camps in Bosnia where thousands of Muslims were raped, tortured, or murdered. The tribunal, sitting in The Hague, acquitted Milomir Stakic of genocide, however.

A chorus of indignation from homosexual groups and their supporters greeted a new worldwide campaign by the Vatican against same-sex marriages. Guidelines approved by Pope John Paul II, urged Roman Catholic legislators to vote against measures that would legalize such unions and called on non-Catholics to join the offensive. In one reaction, a spokesman for Germany's Green Party, said the guidelines were "a sad document of close-minded fanaticism."

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