Welcoming all 18 challengers, interim Afghan President Hamid Karzai made his first campaign appearance outside Kabul since the assassination attempt against him last month. He told thousands of cheering supporters in the city of Ghazni that Saturday's national election is "not just to choose a president, but [is] for peace and stability." Meanwhile, remnants of the Taliban regime distributed leaflets across southern Afghan-istan, ordering would-be voters not to participate. Neighboring Pakistan was deploying hundreds of extra troops along their border to try to prevent saboteurs from crossing and disrupting the election.

Through mediators, Israeli and Palestinian security officials opened a new diplomatic effort to end the latest violence in the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in at least 72 deaths. Discussions were expected to gather momentum over the next few days, Israeli sources said. But they remained skeptical that Palestinian security units had the ability or will to compel Hamas terrorists to end rocket attacks against Israeli towns and settlements. A Hamas spokesman said the firing would not stop until Israelis "leave our land."

Five months after his predecessor was killed by assassins, the new pro-Russian president of Chechyna accepted his oath of office. Amid some of the most intensive security measures yet seen in Russia, former police commander Alu Alkhanov pledged his best efforts to bring peace to the region devastated by war and separatist rebellion. But he assumes his new duties as concern grows that the rebels are turning to terrorism to try to achieve their objective.

In tears, the outgoing president of Indonesia conceded defeat in last month's runoff election against her own former security minister. But in sharing the spotlight with the winner, Susilo Bambamg Yudhoyono, at a military parade, Megawati Sukarno-putri did not mention him by name or offer congratulations.

The last legal obstacles to trying former Khmer Rouge leaders for genocide fell as Cambodia's lower house of parliament OK'd legislation to set up a tribunal that would be backed by the UN. The measures, arrived at after six years of negotiations on how to bring the the defendants to justice, bar the government from pardoning any of them for their involvement in the deaths of almost 2 million people in the late 1970s. A senior official said he expected the trials to begin late next year.

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