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The first team of UN weapons inspectors bound for Iraq is due at its staging base on Cyprus Sunday, with plans to move on to Baghdad Monday. But despite its acceptance of the new UN resolution on disarmament, Saddam Hussein's regime was insisting that "matters are not over with the US administration and its [British] subordinate." It also was seeking the help of "brotherly and friendly states" to press for the lifting of economic sanctions since "Iraq is free of mass-destruction weapons." In New York, officials said the inspectors - all full-time UN employees rather than experts on loan from the US or other governments as in the past - would begin their work Nov. 25.

As expected - and amid lavish closing ceremonies - Chinese President Jiang Zemin began the process of handing over power to a new generation of leaders at the Communist Party Congress in Beijing. In the first orderly succession in the party's history, Vice President Hu Jintao was the only senior leader reelected to the powerful Central Committee. The list of new committee members also showed no military chiefs over 70 but only five women.

Protesting students were preparing for a new demonstration in Iran's capital Sunday against the death sentence issued to a popular professor for blaspheming Islam. They said permission also was being sought from authorities for an off-campus rally Monday despite a national TV appearance by the judge who sentenced Hashem Aghajari, defending the verdict. From his prison cell, Aghajari also called for more protests but urged that they be peaceful.

The first parliament in three years is scheduled to convene in Pakistan Saturday, even though no coalition with a majority of seats had emerged by Thursday afternoon. An alliance of six Muslim fundamentalist organizations that made a strong showing in the Oct. 10 election accused US Ambassador Nancy Powell of interference in their negotiations to form a coalition with the People's Party of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto just as the talks were about to succeed. Islamic groups also have balked at joining with the largest vote-getter in the election, an ally of President Pervez Musharraf, because they want him first to quit the Army and roll back 29 controversial changes he made to the Constitution.

Negotiations aimed at ending the two-month-old uprising by dissident Army troops in Ivory Coast were dealt a setback when their delegates rejected a peace proposal offered by mediators as "not good for us." They called the crisis "political" and said they would draft a counterproposal. The rebels, who hold the mainly Muslim northern half of the country are demanding the resignation of President Laurent Gbagbo (whom they refuse to recognize), new elections, and an end to years of ethnic discrimination against northerners.


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