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The US ambassador to the Philippines flew home for a review of bilateral relations - a sign, analysts said, of tensions over the latter's capitulation to terrorists in Iraq. Meanwhile, the Kenyan government called on all its nationals in Iraq to leave immediately after three truck drivers were taken hostage and threatened with decapitation. An Egyptian and three Indian hostages were similarly threatened. The headless remains of two other hostages were found by Iraqi police, and one was confirmed as a Bulgarian, the Sofia government said.

Steaming over the growing opposition to its West Bank security barrier, Israel said it's no longer sure it can trust the European Union as a partner in the search for peace with the Palestinians. Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom spoke at a news conference with visiting EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who'd said the barrier violates international law. On Wednesday, the Foreign Ministry summoned the ambassadors of three EU states to blast their governments for voting "yes" on a new UN resolution calling for the barrier to be torn down.

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A 30-day window of opportunity expires today for Muslim militants to surrender to authorities in Saudi Arabia in return for pardons, with almost no takers. Only four wanted men have turned themselves in so far, even though the Interior Ministry was encouraging last-minute participation - saying amnesty still would be granted if those seeking it couldn't surrender until later. Meanwhile, Arab TV stations were reporting that the suspected Al Qaeda chief in Saudi Arabia, Saleh Mohamed al-Aoofi, may have been among those killed in a police raid on a house in Riyadh Tuesday in which the severed head of American hostage Paul Johnson was found.

OPEC members are planning a 10 percent increase in oil production by the end of next year, its president told a news conference. Purnomo Yusgiantoro said that translates to between 2.5 million and 3.5 million barrels a day above the current output target of 25.5 million "because we are concerned with the price level that we see today." China's growing demand for imported oil also has contributed to "unwarranted fears" about future shortages of crude that the cartel seeks to allay, he said.

The former prime minister of Portugal won the presidency of the European Union's executive commission and pledged to mend relations with the US. José Manuel Barroso will assume the post Nov. 1, succeeding Italy's Romano Prodi, an outspoken opponent of the war in Iraq. Although Barroso spoke of his "hatred" for the Bush administration's "arrogance" and "unilateralism" in hearings before the European Parliament, more than 250 of its leftist members voted against him; 44 other members abstained.


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