The new US offensive against terrorists in Iraq was in its third day, with a spokesman saying it has resulted in the deaths of at least 100 followers of Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The campaign is aimed at destroying what one spokes-man called a network of "rat lines" - the crossing of men and materials into Iraq from neighboring Syria. Against that backdrop, Japan's government said the apparent kidnaping by terrorists of contractor Akihito Saito would not affect the deployment of its troops there. Italy's foreign minister suggested that the withdrawal of his government's forces in Iraq "could" be delayed from September until early next year.
Members of parliament easily passed a change to Egypt's Constitution that allows contested presidential elections. The decision was considered a foregone conclusion, since President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party holds 90 percent of the seats - although opposition legislators argued heatedly that the amendment sets impossible conditions that will stifle genuine competition. Mubarak, who in a surprise move last February proposed multi-candidate voting, has yet to say whether he'll seek reelection to a fifth six-year term. But such an announcement is expected since he has no serious rival.
Saying, "We want a Europe without dividing lines," Russian President Vladimir Putin and the 25-member European Union announced agreement on a partnership to try to erase decades of mutual mistrust. The deal covers such areas as security and justice; research and education; and freedom. But its main focus is on economic benefit: Russian oil and gas for energy-hungry European consumers and European investment in Russian business.
Not far from the site of Adolf Hitler's bunker in central Berlin, Germany dedicated its long-delayed national monument to the Holocaust. The sprawling memorial consists of more than 2,700 unmarked gray concrete slabs that form a grid through which visitors can walk. They represent the 6 million Jews who died at Nazi hands before and during World War II. Beneath them is an information center that documents the fate of individual Jews. The $35.5 million, publicly financed monument was proposed in 1988.