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In a move with apparent political implications, Poland's government said it will withdraw its troops from Iraq by year's end. Poland's 1,700 soldiers constitute the fourth-largest deployment there. But their presence has become a campaign issue against the government, whose popularity has plummeted because of scandal and the disappointing results of its economic policies. Meanwhile, US Defense Secretary Rumsfeld visited Iraq unannounced and warned against delay in drafting its new constitution and in improving its security standards. Against that backdrop, Iraqis carried their weekend protests against the continuing US presence into Tuesday with a demonstration in Samarra.

Tensions rose another notch between China and Japan as a package arrived at the former's consulate in Osaka containing a spent bullet shell and a hand- written note warning of physical harm unless the large anti-Japanese protests end. Suspicion fell on right-wing activists, but police declined to speculate on who sent the package. As news of the incident was being reported, Chinese Premier Wen Jibao demanded that Japan "take responsibility" for military atrocities in World War II and reconsider its bid for a seat in the UN Security Council.

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Led by the US, donor nations pledged $4.5 billion to help Sudan recover from 22 years of civil war. At a two-day conference in Norway, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said the US contribution will be about $1.7 billion. But further aid, he said, would be conditional on seeing "an end to atrocities and the return of peace in Darfur," the province in which an estimated 2 million non-Arab Muslims have died or lost their homes at the hands of Arab militiamen armed by the government. In January, the government and rebels agreed to end the civil war, which has devastated southern Sudan but is unrelated to the Darfur genocide.

Beleaguered Prime Minister Paul Martin pledged that anyone in Canada's Liberal Party implicated in the national financial scandal "is going to be punished." But for the second day in a row results of an opinion poll showed a significant drop in his party's support, adding to speculation that Martin will have to call an early national election, perhaps in June. One opposition party is expected to file a motion of no confidence in his leadership in Parliament later this week.


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