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Central Iraq was writhing under some of the worst terrorist violence in months. Without providing details, new President Jalal Talibani announced that the remains of more than 50 people had been found in the Tigris River. They were believed to be Shiite hostages taken last week in Madain, whom Iraqi and US forces couldn't find in searches of the city later. Meanwhile, in Haditha, northwest of Baghdad, 19 men were found shot to death, execution-style, in a soccer stadium; residents said they probably were soldiers who were kidnapped en route home for a holiday. On Tuesday, 14 other Iraqis died at the hands of terrorists, and at least 60 more were hurt.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and diplomats from Asian nations urged a private meeting between Japan's and China's leaders this weekend to try to end three weeks of hostilities that have sunk bilateral relations to their lowest level in decades. Prime Minister Juni-chiro Koizumi and President Hu Jintao, respectively, are due to attend the Asia-Africa summit in Indonesia, but China's foreign ministry said only that it hoped Japan would create "good conditions" for such a meeting. The Chinese government again appealed to people in major cities who have participated in violent anti-Japanese demonstrations to "express yourselves calmly." A previous call was ignored, however.

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Embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he'd hand his resignation to the president of Italy Wednesday. But he told reporters he expected to be asked to form a new cabinet immediately in hopes of ending the nation's escalating political crisis. Berlusconi has been struggling to hold his ruling coalition together following a devastating defeat earlier this month in a regional election. One coalition partner quit his government late last week, and another threatened Tuesday to do the same.

Saying, "There is not the least possibility," Ecuadorean President Lucio Gutierrez told interviewers he won't resign despite daily mass protests in the nation's major cities. On the heels of a demonstration Monday night in Guayaquil, as many as 30,000 people tried to march on the National Palace in Quito, the capital, Tuesday. They were turned back by police firing tear gas. The city was quiet Wednesday, but unconfirmed reports said Gutierrez's government was busing in supporters to mount counterdemonstrations.


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