Despite the mounting terrorist violence, Iraq will hold democratic elections on schedule next Jan. 31, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted. His words came in response to last week's view by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan that credible elections would not be possible "if security conditions continue as they are now." Car bombs, ambushes, assassinations, and other forms of terrorism over the past week have killed 300 more people in Iraq. Terrorists also threatened to decapitate within two days the two American hostages and one Briton they kidnapped late last week. Ten others who work for a Turkish-American company would be executed within three days unless their employer leaves Iraq, a videotape broadcast by Al Jazeera said. In another development, Iraqi Airlines resumed international service for the first time since the UN imposed economic sanctions on Saddam Hussein's regime in 1990.

Communist North Korea said it "can never" dismantle its nuclear weapons program and will participate in no more discussions on the subject until the US abandons its "hostile" policy. The statement appeared to go further than one issued late last week in which the Pyong-yang government said it would not join further talks with the US, Japan, Russia, China, and South Korea unless the South's secret atomic experimentation was fully investigated.

Ending an awkward situation for his successor, former Chinese President Jiang Zemin resigned as chairman of the nation's powerful armed forces. His handover of those duties to Hu Jintao, who succeeded him as both president and Communist Party chief, was not expected to result in any dramatic change, analysts said, other than heading off a possible power struggle. Jiang almost certainly will lose the ability to influence policy since he no longer holds any official post.

So-called "final chance" negotiations between Protestants and Catholics to salvage their power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland ended without agreement over the weekend. But the parties closed three days of talks with the expectation that the Irish Republican Army would detail by week's end its conditions for full disarmament and a renunciation of violence.

More than 100,000 guards were posted at polling places across Indonesia to try to head off incidents of violence for today's presidential runoff election. The runoff became necessary when neither incumbent Megawati Sukarnoputri nor challenger Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono won more than 50 percent of the vote in the first round July 5. But Megawati appeared all but certain to lose in a landslide.

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