15th April, 15:00

France

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Fire swept through a central Paris hotel filled with immigrants and tourists, killing at least 20 people, 10 of them children, and injuring dozens more in the deadliest blaze in the French capital in 20 years.

Britain

Britain angrily rejected a claim by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that it shares the blame with the United States for corruption which tainted the Iraq oil-for-food programme.

China

China sought to contain anti-Japan rage with large-scale protests planned in major cities this weekend, prompting Japan and the United States to issue urgent alerts for their citizens to be careful.

Mideast

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is planning further unilateral Israeli withdrawals to follow the pullout from the Gaza Strip if he fails to find a political settlement with the Palestinians, aides said.

Italy

Deputy Prime Minister Marco Follini and three other Christian Democrat ministers withdrew from Italy's center-right coalition government in a deepening political crisis that may force Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi into early elections.

France

French President Jacques Chirac failed to persuade skeptical voters to support the landmark EU constitution in a crucial upcoming referendum despite an impassioned televised appeal, commentators said.

EU

The European Union's current leadership insisted it still hopes the bloc can lift its arms embargo on China by June, but a key official cast new doubt amid growing questions over the move.

Czech

The Czech government was in disarray after a fragile deal between the three ruling coalition partners collapsed overnight, raising the prospect of early elections to resolve the crisis.

Monaco

Residents of the tiny principality of Monaco bid farewell to their long-time ruler Prince Rainier III, who was to be laid to rest beside his beloved wife Grace after a funeral service of solemn royal ritual.

Lebanon

The Lebanese opposition decided to propose pro-Syrian former government minister Nagib Miqati as its candidate for prime minister in talks with President Emile Lahoud, an opposition MP told AFP.

Zimbabwe

A Zimbabwean court acquitted two British journalists from the Sunday Telegraph newspaper of breaching immigration laws, a day after clearing them of covering last month's parliamentary elections without accreditation.

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