World

Concern over Middle East violence shifted to the UN Security Council, which was scheduled - over vigorous Israeli objections - to consider an Arab-sponsored resolution calling for an international observer force. Israeli officials said the UN debate "would cut across our efforts to bring about a cease-fire and get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table." A resolution would be binding if it passes the Security Council and is adopted by the General Assembly. Meanwhile, Islamic militants vowed new suicide bombings in Israel for Sunday's Palestinian victims of West Bank and Gaza Strip violence. Above, Palestinians watch as a funeral procession passes their Nablus home.

Government troops and ethnic-Albanian insurgents traded gunfire early Monday, just hours before NATO's top commander, US Gen. Joseph Ralston, arrived in Macedonia for an assessment of the strength of the cease-fire between the two sides. Each blamed the other for provoking the clash but reemphasized its commitment to the cease-fire. The government also said it would respect a no-fly zone above sites where rebels have agreed to hand over their arms to NATO troops. Ralston is to report to NATO leaders today as they debate the dispatch of 3,500 troops for the weapons collection.

Opposition to several of reform-minded President Mohamad Khatami's 20 cabinet appointees appeared to be growing in Iran's parliament, with senior sources saying at least three were unlikely to be confirmed. Three others were considered barely confirmable. Khatami, reelected last month to a new four-year term, reappointed most of the ministers who had served in his first term. But his own allies have criticized the choices as too weak, while his hard-line enemies say the lineup isn't strong enough on economic policy. (Related story, page 6.)

With peace negotiations again suspended, thousands of government troops were pursuing a force of leftist rebels in Colombia's southern jungle. An Army spokesman said his soldiers had killed 20 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the largest of the nation's guerrilla movements, among them one of its most-senior commanders. That could not be confirmed, however. Negotiations broke down earlier this month, and President Andres Pastrana has said a truce with FARC would be possible only after a cease-fire and full suspension of hostilities. (Related story, page 7.)

Despite two more assassinations that added to the political violence in Bangladesh, the nation's main parties endorsed Oct. 1 as the date for a new national election. The latest deaths, bringing the total to 50 since a caretaker government took over for ex-Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed July 15, is blamed on the desperation of the rival Awami League and the four-party coalition led by the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to grab power.

Residents and tourists appeared unconcerned in Belize and Mexico's Yucatan peninsula as tropical storm Chantal bore down on them, showing signs of building to hurricane strength. The fast-moving storm, the season's third to date, dumped heavy rains on Caribbean islands and was blamed for two deaths in Trinidad.

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