In a moment of confusion at his swearing-in, Iraq's new Kurdish president forgot to announce to parliament his choice for prime minister, causing a premature halt to TV coverage of the event. But Jalal Talabani later returned to name Shiite leader Ibrahim al-Jaafari to the post, as expected. Jaafari has two weeks to decide on the makeup of his cabinet, whose primary task will be the drafting of a permanent constitution.
Rome, already swollen with Roman Catholic pilgrims for the viewing and Friday's funeral of Pope John Paul II, was bracing for the arrival of as many as 2 million more from his native Poland. The memorial Mass also is expected to attract the leaders of more than 100 countries. Meanwhile, the Vatican made public the details of the pontiff's will, in which he reportedly considered resigning five years ago as the new millennium began.
In an about-face, Israel's Defense Minister said he will recommend that housing in soon-to-be-evacuated Jewish settle- ments in the Gaza Strip not be destroyed. Synagogues and other symbols of Judaism will be dismantled and moved into Israel proper, however, Shaul Mofaz said. Israel's cabinet still must OK the proposal. Originally, the government wanted to avoid scenes of jubilant Palestinians taking over settlers' homes as Gaza is evacuated this summer. But the demolition would cause the pullout to take far longer than planned, would cost more, and could be expected to generate international criticism, reports said.
Despite another sabotage attempt by separatist rebels, the first civilian bus service across divided Kashmir left Srinigar, India, and arrived safely in the Pakistani city of Muzaffarabad, where passengers were greeted by a large and emotional crowd. Although the service is the leading symbol of improved peace prospects between the rival nations, it will operate only twice a month, helping to reunite families who - in some cases - have been separated since India was partitioned in 1949.
The number of migrants trying to cross illegally into Arizona from Mexico has dropped by half since civilian volunteers of the Minuteman Project began monitoring part of the US border early this week, officials said. But signs indicated that would-be crossers were avoiding that 23-mile long stretch or were waiting for the project to end before entering the US. At the border, Grupo Beta, a Mexican government-sponsored aid organization, said migrants were refusing its offer of discounted bus tickets back home because they planned to attempt the crossing as often as necessary until they succeeded.