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With US and Chinese diplomats "heavily engaged" in a search for a way out of the standoff over the surveillance plane incident, there were further signs that the situation was easing. No outlines of a possible solution were reported as the Monitor went to press, but senior US officials said they were encouraged at the "level and quality" of the contacts. And in Beijing, authorities were reining in public displays of anger over the incident. Above, police lead a would-be protester away from the US Embassy.

No early resumption of peace negotiations appeared likely after Israeli and Palestinian security officials finished a "difficult" meeting that made no reported progress on lowering the level of violence. The late-night session was further marred by a shooting incident as the Palestinians returned to the Gaza Strip. Three Palestinians were hurt in the incident, which each side blamed on the other.

Saying, "I want to be sure it is served on Mr. Milosevic," an official of the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague arrived in Belgrade with a formal warrant for the arrest of the ex-Yugoslav president. But he called the move "symbolic" amid growing signs that Western governments are content to see Milosevic tried in Yugoslav courts first.

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In its most significant move to date in the dispute over control of Kashmir, the government of India invited militant separatist leaders for a dialogue on "peace and how it may be attained." There was no mention of preconditions, but the invitation did not include rival Pakistan, whose negotiators the separatist leaders say they must be allowed to confer with before accepting the offer.

Out of concern for worsening social and economic conditions in Congo, new President Joseph Kabila fired the entire cabinet left over from his late father's regime. He also suspended the chiefs of all state-owned enterprises and ordered auditors into all provinces to determine how they are being managed. There was no word on when replacements would be named.

A ban on exit polling was reversed by justice authorities in Peru in time for Sunday's keenly anticipated presidential election. The restriction was imposed after last April's first round of balloting between incumbent Alberto Fujimori and challenger Alejandro Toledo because projections based on exit polls indicated Toledo would win. Official results later gave Fujimori a narrow lead, forcing a runoff that Toledo boycotted. The ban was ruled unconstitutional.

Only minutes before their threatened beheading of an American hostage, his Muslim kidnappers in the Philippines postponed it on appeals by his wife and mother. But the Abu Sayyaf rebels said they still might execute Jeffrey Schilling if Filipino troops did not "back off" an intensive new hunt for the group's hideouts. The beheading was to coincide with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's birthday, which also was Schilling's wedding anniversary.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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