The US won a unanimous vote in the UN Security Council for its draft resolution on Iraq's future. The outcome surprised some observers, who'd expected Syria, the only Arab nation on the council and a vigorous opponent of the US-led war to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, to abstain. But France, another leading opponent, warned that the vote would not translate into either European financial help or the peacekeeping troops the US seeks to ease its burden in rebuilding Iraq.

Security forces were on high alert in northern India as the hour approached for a potentially explosive Hindu rally on the site of a historic Muslim mosque destroyed in 1992. The demonstration to demand that a Hindu temple be built on the site, in the city of Ayodhya, is banned by court order, but activists have vowed to hold it anyway. Last year, furious Muslims set fire to a train carrying Hindus home from a similar rally, killing 59 people and triggering riots in which more than 1,000 others died.

Ratcheting up its rhetoric, the government of North Korea said it would "physically display" its nuclear deterrent force, an indication - according to analysts - that it may be about to explode a test device. The Foreign Ministry said there was "no other option but to keep and increase" the North's nuclear program because of alleged US plans to invade. The US demands that the North abandon the program before there can be any improvement in bilateral relations. Six-nation talks on the issue ended in early August without a breakthrough.

The first attempt to put a Chinese astronaut in space ended successfully, although he said he couldn't see the Great Wall while in orbit. Many Chinese say they believe the wall is the only manmade structure visible from outer space. The space program's engineering chief said its next goal is to launch a manned orbiting laboratory.

Thousands of angry opposition supporters fought with police and Army troops in the streets of Azerbaijan's capital after President Gaidar Aliev's son was declared the winner of the national election to succeed him. At least two people were killed, dozens of police were hurt, and 25 arrests were reported. With ballot-counting almost complete, Ilham Aliev had 79 percent of the vote, to 12 percent for his closest rival, elections officials said. Western observers said the vote was marred by rampant fraud.

A deal that would merge the two main right-of-center political parties in Canada was signed by the leaders of the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives. They set Dec. 12 as the deadline for ratification by their respective memberships, although skeptics said approval is neither automatic nor likely to put the new party on an equal footing with the Liberals, who've won the last three national elections and hold more than twice as many seats in Parliament as the Alliance and Progressive Conservatives combined.

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