UN investigators have asked to question Syrian president Bashar Assad and his foreign minister about the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The probe commission would also like the Syrian government to let them question "as soon as possible" former Syrian Vice President Abdul-Halim Khaddam, who alleged in a television interview broadcast Friday from Paris that the Syrian president had threatened Mr. Hariri several months before Hariri was assassinated in a Feb. 14 truck bombing. There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government, which declined a similar request in July.

Iraq's oil exports hit their lowest level since the war - about half the level seen during sanctions under Saddam Hussein - according to figures released Monday. Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum announced his resignation, citing fuel price rises imposed last month as part of an aid deal with the International Monetary Fund that demands big cuts in subsidies. In addition to the subsidy cuts, the industry has been damaged by sabotage of plants and pipelines.

Nepalese rebels called off a four-month cease-fire Monday, saying they had to take up arms to defend themselves against government attacks. Under the Sept. 3 cease-fire, the Maoist rebels had pledged not to attack military or civilian targets in hopes of reviving peace talks, but said they would continue to defend their positions. They continued, however, to block highways, extort money, and kidnap villagers for indoctrination sessions. The government refused to join the cease-fire, calling it a ploy by the militants to buy time to reorganize. Political parties accused the government of forcing the rebels to resume fighting. Rebel leader Prachanda did not say when rebels would resume fighting.

Citing concern over China's growing military threat, Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian made clear in a televised speech Sunday that he will take a tougher stance toward Beijing in the remaining 2-1/2 years of his term. Since he was elected in 2000, Mr. Chen has made numerous attempts at compromise with the mainland but has been largely rebuffed.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will scrap the road map to peace with the Palestinians pushed by the US, and instead seek Washington's blessing for annexing occupied West Bank land, the Maariv newspaper said Monday. Though the paper gave no source, and Sharon's spokesman declined comment, Sharon's initial plans for last year's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip were first floated in a similar way.

In the wake of six kidnappings of foreigners in the Gaza Strip, EU officials announced Monday they would follow through with plans to send EU monitors to cover the Jan. 25 Palestinian parliamentary elections. Palestinian gunmen have threatened to target the estimated 200 monitors. In a related development, senior members of the ruling Fatah party Monday urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to delay the elections out of fear that recent violence will benefit the militant Hamas group. Palestinian officials estimate Gaza Strip unemployment at more than 50 percent, due to Israeli closures and a poor economy.

Uganda's main opposition leader was ordered released on bail Monday by a civilian court, which ruled that a military court's order to detain Kizza Besigye was illegal. Mr. Besigye, the first credible challenger to President Yoweri Museveni's 19-year rule, is on trial in the High Court for alleged treason and rape. Separately he is charged by a military tribunal with terrorism and illegal possession of firearms. He has denied all the charges, which his supporters have said were trumped up to keep him from running against Museveni in the upcoming February elections. Besigye faces a maximum death penalty if convicted of either the terrorism or treason charges.

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