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In a "routine military exercise," North Korea test-fired two missiles into the Yellow Sea, intelligence sources in rival South Korea said Wednesday. Both had ranges of 75 miles or less, they said, but the test was seen as a signal of a new hard line in the North's confrontation with the US and other negotiating partners over its nuclear weapons program. Special US envoy Christopher Hill concluded a visit to North Korea last week to try to salvage the disarmament accord agreed to by the six parties.

An uneasy calm prevailed in Thailand's capital Wednesday after two people died and hundreds more were hurt in the worst antigovernment violence in 16 years. Police and soldiers patrolled the streets, and embattled Prime Minister Wongsawat sought to assure diplomats from neighboring nations that his government "can take care of the situation." But opposition protesters from the People's Alliance for Democracy vowed to intensify their four-month campaign as soon as Thursday.

For the first time, Syria's government confirmed Wednesday that it has deployed hundreds of troops along the border with Lebanon. But, speaking on condition of anonymity, an official said their mission was to deter smuggling and the movement of "saboteurs." The buildup was spotted weeks ago by journalists, and in Washington the Bush administration said any attempt by the troops to cross into Lebanon would be "unacceptable."

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