Iraq's new foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari was to address the UN Security Council in New York Thursday about a resolution regarding the transfer of sovereignty to Iraq's newly announced interim government. The wording of the resolution has divided the 15-nation body. Council members from Russia, China, and France are among those calling for serious reworking that will give Iraq's new leaders final say over the multinational force after the June 30 handover of power. US Secretary of State Powell has said the new government will have no veto power over future US-led military operations. Urging removing "all traces" of allied occupation was Iraq's influential Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, who tacitly endorsed the interim government. Meanwhile, fighting broke out in Kufa between US soldiers and Shiite militiamen, five of whom were killed in continuing skirmishes since an agreement aimed at halting confrontations.

In a bid to avoid a collapse of his coalition government, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon worked Thursday toward a compromise with rebellious cabinet ministers in advance of Sunday's vote over his Gaza pullout plan. Under consideration is an arrangement that supports Sharon's plan "in principle" for disengaging in conflict with Palestinians, but would require a new vote months later before any Jewish settlements could be evacuated. Finding a plan that suits hardline cabinet ministers is complicated by US and Egyptian support of a full "disengagement plan."

German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said Wednesday that he looked forward to standing alongside leaders of the World War II allies that defeated Nazi Germany at this Sunday's 60th anniversary D-Day ceremonies in France. Schröder has accepted an invitation to become the first German leader to attend ceremonies marking the Allied invasion of Normandy.

After five aid workers were killed Wednesday in a drive-by ambush in Afghanistan, Doctors Without Borders announced it would suspend operations in the country "for the time being." Members of the former Taliban regime claimed responsibility for the assault, the deadliest since it was ousted in late 2001.

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