On the eve of today's widely anticipated conference on the future of post-Taliban Afghan-istan, the US warned that no financial aid for rebuilding the shattered country would be forthcoming unless "there is a government that is broadly representative - and recognized by us." Delegates from the Northern Alliance and three other factions are to meet for the talks in a hotel at Bonn, Germany, with diplomats from the US, Russia, Pakistan, and Iran wielding influence from the sidelines. The UN-sponsored conference is expected to last about one week. (Story, page 6; related opinion, page 11.)
Without encountering resistance, a force of US Marines landed at the key airport at Kandahar, the Taliban base in southern Afghanistan, preparing to turn it into a staging area for "forward operations." The action was the first major seizure of Afghan ground by American troops. But defiant Taliban spokesmen rejected negotiations for a peaceful handover of the city, vowing "we will continue our fight." (Stories, pages 1, 6; editorial, page 10.)
Postponement of the critical elections scheduled for Jan. 27 appeared likely in Macedonia, as members of parliament agreed with President Boris Trajkovski that the public order in the volatile republic should be strengthened first. The lawmakers are expected to vote on the matter today. Trajkovski is urging that the election be put off until April. Although the government and ethnic-Albanian leaders signed a Western-sponsored peace accord last summer, tensions remain high, and a new rebel group calling itself the Albanian National Army claimed responsibility for a bomb explosion last week.
As expected, a state of emergency was declared by Nepal's new king, with the number of deaths over the weekend at the hands of communist guerrillas rising to at least 130. The government designated the rebels as a terrorist organization and ordered the Army to crush it. The violence qualifies as the nation's worst in five years as the guerrillas attempt to topple the monarchy. In attacking police outposts across the country, they broke a cease-fire that had been in effect since July. Above, police man a guard post in Kathmandu, the capital.
A conservative business leader whose only son was kidnaped and murdered in Honduras's long struggle against violent crime was elected president in his first try for public office. Ricardo Maduro, representing the Nationalist Party, led his closest rival, Rafael Pineda of the ruling Liberal Party, by a 53 percent to 44 percent margin as the vote-count neared the halfway point. But Pineda conceded defeat. Maduro campaigned on pledges of "zero tolerance" of crime and on attacking poverty through creation of new jobs.
An out-of-control fire was burning through a poor neighborhood in Cambodia's capital, leaving thousands of people homeless. Reports said the blaze, the second of its type in that section of Phnom Penh in six months, had trapped many residents, but there was no immediate word on deaths or injuries. Appeals were broadcast for food and shelter assistance.