Rejection appeared likely for Iraq's request that other Muslim nations send peacekeeping troops and financial help for its rebuilding effort. The request met a cool reception at the Organization of the Islamic Conference meeting in Indonesia. Meanwhile, Turkey, which has committed to sending troops, cast a potential new roadblock into the situation by saying it would not decide how many until finding out where they'd be deployed. The presence of Turkish troops already is opposed by Iraq's interim Governing Council.

The rocket that's intended to carry China's first astronaut into outer space was in place on its launching pad as the three candidates for the trip arrived at the site. State news media said only "No. 1" would be aboard for the lift-off, probably Wednesday. The capsule is expected to orbit Earth 14 times before returning.

Saying, "I have no confidence in doing my job under this situation," embattled South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun proposed a mid-December referendum on his rule and said he'd quit if he lost. His announcement sent legal scholars scrambling to determine whether it was constitutional. Roh was elected last December, but said political infighting and the hostility of the news media have caused him to conclude that "I cannot conduct the presidency." Recent opinion polls by leading newspapers indicate he'd win a referendum easily.

Skeptics doubted the word of security officials in the Philippines that they'd cornered and killed one of Asia's leading terrorists. A national manhunt was on for Indonesian-born Fathur Rohman al-Ghozi, an expert bombmaker suspected of having ties to Al Qaeda, after his escape from a police jail in Manila in July. Critics claimed Ghozi had long since been recaptured and was executed only now to improve the government's image in the counterterrorism war on the verge of the visit later this week by President Bush.

Expectations were low for the outcome of Tuesday's's delicate talks between officials of mainly ethnic-Albanian Kosovo and Serbia, their first face-to-face meeting since the 1999 war in the volatile province. The talks will be held on neutral soil in Austria. But they're complicated by the refusal of Kosovo's top leaders to attend - on grounds that the time is not yet right - and by a crucial vote of confidence in parliament on Serbia's government. A defeat could topple the leadership in Belgrade.

Wednesday's national election in oil-rich Azerbaijan will be free and fair, the son of ill President Gaidar Aliev pledged. With his father having quit the contest for reelection, Prime Minister Ilham Aliev is expected to win easily despite a massive protest Sunday by supporters of the opposition on grounds of corruption and human rights abuses.

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