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With 14,000 London police assigned to security duties, President Bush embarked on his first trip to Britain since the war in Iraq began. The four-day stay, designed to highlight strong ties between Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair, is drawing legions of protesters. The Stop the War Coalition said it expects 100,000 people to march Thursday past Blair's offices on Downing Street as the two leaders hold talks. Despite considerable anti-US and anti-Bush rhetoric, however, a poll published by the Guardian newspaper found 43 percent of respondents welcome the trip, while 36 percent oppose it.

In central Iraq, US fighter jets struck suspected insurgent positions with the heaviest aerial bombardment since Bush declared an end to major combat in May. Among the reported targets was a road near Baqouba, northeast of Baghdad, dubbed "RPG Alley" for frequent rocket-propelled-grenade attacks by guerrillas. Some international experts warned that the tougher tactics risk fanning support for anti-American forces.

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The UN refugee agency withdrew staff from central and east Afghanistan and temporarily closed four refugee centers in response to Sunday's fatal shooting of a French aid worker in Ghazni, southwest of Kabul. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, the third against the UN and its workers in the past week. South Korea shut its embassy in the Afghan capital after warnings of a suicide-bomb attack.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will meet for the first time with Palestinian counterpart Ahmed Qureia next week, Israel's foreign minister announced after his own talks with Secretary of State Powell in Brussels. It's hoped the summit will revive the stalled Middle East peace process. In a fresh flareup of violence, a Palestinian with a rifle hidden in a prayer rug killed two Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint, and an Israeli raid on a Gaza refugee camp left nine Palestinians and one Israeli wounded.

Riot police in Zimbabwe arrested 20 people, 10 of them trade-union leaders, ahead of planned demonstrations in the capital, Harare. The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called the march to protest steadily worsening economic conditions, and to warn the government of hard-line President Robert Mugabe not to raise prices or taxes when it unveils a new budget Thursday.


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