World

"I announce to you that I accepted" a proposal to meet with Israel's top diplomat, Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat told journalists in the first hint in months of a return to peace efforts in the Middle East. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, traveling in Eastern Europe, said details of such a meeting would be discussed once he and Arafat return from their travels. But early optimism over the announcement was tempered by a car-bomb blast outside a police station in Jerusalem, although no casualties were reported. (Opinion, page 9.)

A vote appeared unlikely in the UN Security Council on a draft resolution calling for a "monitoring mechanism" between Israeli forces and Palestinians after the US, Britain, Russia, China, and France indicated they wouldn't support it. The Arab-sponsored measure also would have called on Israel to end its takeover of the Palestinian headquarters in Jerusalem. The US vetoed a similar proposal in late March.

A suspected Albanian attack on a 13th century Orthodox monastery further strained the fragile cease-fire between ethnic insurgents and government troops that is the key condition for NATO deployment in Macedonia. The attack came as NATO member states were set to give the green light for the 3,500-man force, which would collect the insurgents' weapons. Above, an Albanian guards the entrance to his unit's headquarters near Skopje, the capital, as a British NATO officer leaves.

Aboard a UN plane, three Western diplomats flew out of Afghanistan vowing further efforts to try to visit the foreign aid workers jailed early this month for promoting Christianity. The country's ruling Taliban movement, which denied access to the four German, two US, and two Australian detainees, also rejected UN criticism of the arrests as "two-faced and full of double standards." But it said it was "considering" granting the "neutral" Red Cross a visit with the aid workers.

A Tamil Tiger guerrilla force reportedly consisting of many women overran a police station in eastern Sri Lanka, killing15 people and wounding 18 others. Eight rebels also died. There was no immediate evidence that the assault was led by females, however. The strike was one of the boldest since the Tigers stormed the Sri Lankan capital's international airport and an adjoining military base last month, killing 18 people and destroying 13 planes.

A new discovery of oil and natural gas deposits in Tibet, estimated at 5.4 billion tons, was announced in Beijing's China Daily newspaper, which said energy experts are urging the government to exploit them. Word of the huge find, considered certain to tie Tibet even more tightly to China, comes on top of the government's announcement earlier this summer that it is investing $3.8 billion in 117 construction projects there. Already under way is construction of a 650-mile railroad that will link Lhasa, the Tibetan capital, and China's Qinghai province.

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