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Last Updated:  Sunday, 16 March, 2003, 03:11 GMT
Global outcry against war
Anti-war protest in Berlin
Protesters in Berlin formed a "chain of light"
Anti-war protesters have held rallies in a number of countries, as American-led military action against Iraq seems all but certain.

American demonstrations were held in Washington DC and several other cities, just a day before an emergency summit between President George W Bush and his main allies, the British and Spanish leaders.

In Germany, 100,000 people with candles formed a 35km (22-mile) long "chain of light" in Berlin on Saturday evening.

And Italian organisers said 400,000 people attended an anti-war rally in Milan, but other protests in Europe were on a smaller scale than last month's huge demonstrations.

Earlier in the day, rallies were held across Asia, including Thailand, New Zealand, Japan and Australia.

Numbers drop

In Washington DC, an estimated 20,000 marchers set off from the Washington Monument.

"President Bush, listen to your people, the American people before you today who say 'No war in Iraq'," student Peta Lindsay told the crowd.

Protesters in Sydney carry anti-Bush banner
Thousands attended protests across Australia
The scale of the protest was much smaller than January's rally, which saw 100,000 people gather outside the White House, the largest demonstration seen in the city since the days of the Vietnam war.

Many protesters said they believed this weekend could be the final opportunity for diplomacy - and for protesters to make their voices heard.

"It's absolutely critical, maybe the most critical moment to prevent the war," Chuck Kauffman, one of the protest organisers, told the French news agency AFP.

Protests were also held in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

A small pro-war demonstration was held in Washington, with others planned for Atlanta, Georgia and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Resigned to war

In the UK, the Stop the War coalition held protests in London and other cities, including Leeds and Newcastle, in "solidarity" with US marchers.

Demonstrators in Cairo
A small but vocal protest in Cairo
Muslim groups also marched through central London calling on Islamic nations not to support a US-led war.

Rallies were also held in Russia, but turnout was low. The BBC's Nikolai Gorshkov says many Russians are resigned to an inevitable US attack and the passers-by he met seemed more preoccupied with their own day-to-day problems.

Anti-war and anti-US rhetoric was fiery in the Egyptian capital, where around 300 demonstrators gathered at Cairo University, outnumbered by heavily armed riot police.

But many students refused to join the protests, saying that, while they rejected US polices and opposed war with Iraq, they were also fed up with demonstrating when neither the US nor their own government listened to them.

Peace vigils

Hours earlier, more than 3,000 demonstrators in Christ Church, New Zealand, marched to the city's central square, chanting "Give Peace a Chance", with another 1,000 turning out in the city of Dunedin.

Thousands of Australians attended protests in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney, holding peace picnics and education sessions.

Thailand saw more than 3,000 people stage a protest outside the United Nations building in the capital, Bangkok, shouting anti-war chants and holding banners with slogans such as "No Bush oil" and "UN stand up to the US".

And around 10,000 people marched through a central shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, protesting against the government's support for US-led action in Iraq.

On Sunday, peace vigils are planned in more than more than 2,800 cities in about 100 countries, the Associated Press news agency reported.

The BBC's Clarence Mitchell
"Across the world the demonstrators' message was the same"

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