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The pressure on Iraq to submit to new weapons inspections grew as neighboring Saudi Arabia signaled it would cooperate in an effort to topple Saddam Hussein – given an OK by the UN. Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal also said his government could again allow the use of bases on its soil for attacks against Iraq, as it did in the 1991 Gulf War. On Friday, Qatar's government said it, too, would consider any request "from our friends" to use its territory as the main staging base for a US-led attack.

Against a backdrop of new violence, the first stage of state elections in disputed Kashmir ended, with Indian officials saying they were "satisfied" with a 44 percent voter turnout. Seventeen suspected Muslim militant infiltrators were killed by security forces during polling hours or just beforehand. Rival Pakistan dismissed the election as a "sham." Voting in three more stages for a new state parliament is to conclude Oct. 8.

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In a landslide victory, the opposition Social Democrats swept to power in ethnically troubled Macedonia, claiming an outright majority in parliament. Analysts said voters were fed up with the violence and tensions that have wracked the ex-Yugoslav republic for the past year. Sunday's election also ousted the Democratic Party of Albanians, a partner in the current coalition government, making the rival Union for Democratic Integration that minority's leading political force. Social Democrat leader Branko Crvenkovski is expected to become the next prime minister.

The protest movement aimed at toppling hard-line Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma brought an estimated 20,000 demonstrators to the streets of the capital, Kiev. Rallies of similar size were reported in other cities despite a court order last Friday banning them. They coincided with the second anniversary of the disappearance and murder of investigative reporter Giorgy Gongadze, which Kuchma is widely accused of ordering. Kuchma's term is not due to expire until 2004.

Voters refused to make Sweden the latest European country to shift to the right, giving the socialist coalition government a new four-year term. The Social Democrats, who have ruled for 61 of the past 70 years, won 40 percent of the ballots, almost three times more than their closest rival. Support for the leading opposition party, the Moderates, fell from 22 percent in the last election, to 15 percent, despite its pledge to cut the industrialized world's highest taxes, which subsidize the generous public welfare system.


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