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Opponents of the US-led war in Iraq should set aside those views and "give generously" to the reconstruction effort there, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the opening of a donor conference in Madrid. "This long-term challenge has to be faced by all of us," he told delegates from 77 countries. The US hopes to raise $35.8 billion at the two-day session. Iraq's Governing Council also appealed for nations to which Iraq owes money to forgive those obligations, since most were incurred under Saddam Hussein's regime.

Two Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel were executed by masked gunmen in a West Bank town and their remains left on display as a warning to others. Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for the shootings in Tulkarem. Meanwhile, a senior Israeli military source told the Jerusalem Post that the Army has a plan for "removing" Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat once it receives the order to do so. Arafat has said he'd fight to the death in any such attempt.

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Conceding that it previously had been "discreet" about its nuclear program, the government of Iran turned over a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency "that fully discloses our past activities." But the documents apparently do not cover the origin of weapons-grade uranium traces found at two Iranian sites by IAEA inspectors. Iran's representative to the agency insisted those came "from intermediaries on the foreign market." The report was submitted eight days before the Oct. 31 IAEA deadline for full disclosure of Iran's nuclear activities.

There were signs that, despite its tough rhetoric on the idea of multilateral security guarantees, North Korea's government may be inching back toward a willingness to engage in further talks on its nuclear weapons program. A diplomatic source with ties to Pyongyang said the North soon would contact US officials to discuss President Bush's offer of such an assurance. At this week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Thailand, Bush said he was willing to negotiate a guarantee. But he ruled out a formal treaty on the issue, which the North has demanded.

Leaders of the separatist movement in Kashmir appeared to be leaning toward acceptance of the Indian government's surprise offer for direct talks. But they said they first had to consult the religious and political groups inside their alliance as well as the government of rival Pakistan. If the offer is accepted, such talks would be the first between the All Parties Hurriyat Conference and senior Indian officials since the separatist rebellion in Kashmir began in 1989.


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