2nd May; 15:00

Iraq

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A spate of car bombings in Baghdad killed at least eight Iraqis and 25 died in an attack on a Kurdish funeral while Australian Prime Minister John Howard vowed to stand firm in the face of insurgent demands to withdraw his forces from Iraq following the kidnapping of an Australian contractor.

Afghanistan

A massive explosion at a secret ammunition dump in northern Afghanistan killed at least 28 people and injured 13 others.

Italy

Censored parts of a US military report on the shooting of an Italian intelligence officer in Baghdad disclosed that US forces had communication problems at the time, an Italian newspaper reported.

Nuclear

Some 190 nations began a review of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, with worsening crises in North Korea and Iran mounting serious challenges to the world's fight against the spread of atomic weapons.

EU

Japan may drop its bid to host the revolutionary ITER nuclear reactor and agree to its being built in Europe, the EU presidency said.

Iraq

Romanian President Traian Basescu said he was "certain" that three Romanian journalists kidnapped March 28 along with a US-Iraqi businessman were "safe and sound," without elaborating on possible negotiations with the kidnappers.

India

The Indian army said a campaign to hunt down suspected Islamic militants in Kashmir had left 90 rebels dead since the launch of a bus service last month meant to signal peace in the divided state.

Iraq

Private Lynndie England, the US soldier infamously photographed holding a leash attached to the neck of a naked Iraqi inmate at the Abu Ghraib prison, was expected to plead guilty to several charges at a court-martial here.

US

Michael Jackson's trial on child sex abuse charges resumed with defence lawyers champing at the bit for their chance to roll back 10 weeks of often-sensational testimony against the pop icon.

EU

At an annual summit with European leaders, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi voiced firm opposition to EU plans to lift a 16-year-old arms embargo on China, amid worsening ties between Tokyo and the economic giant.

Mideast

Israeli cabinet minister Nathan Sharansky, one of US President George W. Bush's intellectual guiding lights, resigned in protest at Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to pull Jewish settlers out of the occupied Gaza Strip.

Britain

British Prime Minister Tony Blair strove again to put the economy ahead of Iraq as his governing Labour Party went all out to win key constituencies that could decide the outcome of Thursday's general election.

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