In his most forceful comments to date, President Bush demanded that Syria end its occupation of Lebanon now. Bush implicitly rejected Syrian leader Bashar Assad's remarks in a new Time magazine interview in which the latter said his troops in Lebanon would be withdrawn "maybe in the next few months." Meanwhile, the two most powerful Arab states, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, were mounting a mediation effort to try to persuade Syria to announce a withdrawal timetable "as soon as possible" - meaning next month, diplomats said.

The US also blasted the International Atomic Energy Agency for failing in its "obligation" to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for economic sanctions because of its nuclear program. Iran is "willing and apparently able" to manipulate global nonproliferation measures "in the pursuit of nuclear weapons," Bush's envoy told the IAEA meeting in Vienna. At the same meeting, Iran said it has barred IAEA inspectors from some strategic sites because they could leak information useful to nations planning a possible military attack.

Assassins killed one of the judges and a lawyer from the secret Iraqi court that will try Saddam Hussein and others from his ousted regime. They were shot a day after five of the defendants were indicted - the last legal step before their trials begin. The tribunal had asked that the identities of its officials be shielded, but last summer a correspondent for Britain's Independent newspaper revealed the name of the judge for Hussein's trial in one of his reports.

Citing stress and deteriorating health, unpopular Hong Kong Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa resigned, reports said. In Beijing, a Chinese government spokesman refused to comment on the matter, but Tung was reprimanded recently for poor performance by President Hu Jintao. Analysts said the timing of Tung's departure was a master stroke because if it had followed massive street protests against his rule last year the Chinese leadership could have been seen as "caving in to people power."

In their heaviest combat in six years, UN peacekeepers in eastern Congo killed as many as 60 rebel militiamen - less than a week after nine of their own men died in an ambush nearby. Angry rebel leaders accused the UN force of seeking revenge for the earlier attack, but a spokes-man for the peacekeepers predicted more such clashes.

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