Still more terrorist violence wracked Sunni Muslim areas of Iraq, with a car-bomb explosion killing at least seven people and wounding 19 in Baghdad and saboteurs cutting off electricity to much of the country via a fire in a power-generating plant. US military authorities also acknowledged the deaths of seven marines in separate clashes with terrorists. But a spokes-man said additional details could not be provided, since that could place other military personnel at risk.

Israel will pull its troops out of Palestinian-dominated cities for three days to allow optimum conditions for the Jan. 9 presidential election to choose a successor to Yasser Arafat, the Defense Ministry announced. But Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ruled out peace talks with the new Palestinian Authority leadership until after the latter reined in terrorists such as those who killed five soldiers Sunday in the Gaza Strip. (Story, page 1.)

A parallel investigation was opened by Ukraine's parliament into the apparent poisoning of opposition leader Viktor Yuschenko after the prosecutor-general announced a similar probe Sunday. The moves followed a report by physicians in Vienna, who examined him last week and determined that the dramatic disfiguring of his face was due to high concentrations of the industrial chemical dioxin in his blood. But the doctors said he's sufficiently well to campaign for the second runoff election Dec. 26 against Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovich.

Pledging a war on poverty and strengthened relations with the US and Britain, opposition candidate Traian Basescu (above, raising his arms in celebration) claimed an upset victory in Romania's presidential runoff election Sunday. Almost complete returns gave the Bucharest mayor 51.2 percent of the vote, compared to 48.8 percent for Prime Minister Adrian Nastase - a reversal of their finish in the first round Nov. 28. Nastase offered to work with Basescu in preparing Romania for entry into the European Union in 2007. (Editorial, page 8.)

Against opinion polls showing strong opposition to the idea, foreign ministers of the 25 European Union states opened discussions on when to invite Turkey into membership. Surveys in France and Germany found 67 percent and 55 percent of respondents, respectively, object to admitting the Ankara government, and negotiations toward that end are expected to take up to 15 years.

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