World

"Despite the severity of the situation," a meeting will be held tonight between Israel's foreign minister and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, reports said. The word came as Israel's Cabinet OK'd the intensifying of military operations against Palestinian targets, although Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly ruled out large-scale strikes on non-Israeli territory. He also decided against new military security zones reported to be under consideration last week.

A long-term military presence in Macedonia under UN mandate may be acceptable to the government after all, a senior official said. The apparent modification of position came one day after President Boris Trajkovski ruled out extending the stay of NATO troops now collecting the weapons of ethnic-Albanian insurgents. The NATO mission is due to end Sept. 27, but European Union foreign ministers agreed Sunday that a multinational force was necessary to protect civilian peace monitors who will remain. The EU believes it has leverage because of a scheduled Oct. 15 conference on donating aid to Macedonia.

Saying, "You have to know how to ... lose," Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko called on his closest rival to concede defeat in Sunday's election. But international monitors said the voting was "clearly not fair" after the Election Commission reported Lukashenko had won 75.6 percent of the ballots to opposition leader Vladimir Goncharik's 15.4 percent. Goncharik filed a complaint alleging massive fraud, demanded a new vote, and urged supporters (above) to protest in the streets. (Editorial, page 10.)

Suicide bombers posing as journalists seriously wounded the commander leading the long-running guerrilla war against Afghanistan's ruling Taliban. Ahmad Shah Masood was rushed to a hospital in neighboring Tajikistan, where aides disputed reports that he had died. Taliban officials denied responsibility for the attack.

More than 230 additional illegal immigrants were to be sent to the tiny island nation of Nauru after its government agreed to take them from Australia in return for $10 million worth of diesel fuel and other considerations. They are in addition to hundreds of others rescued last month from a sinking boat that was headed for Australia. Immigration officials there defended their policy of turning away the would-be asylum-seekers but said they expected it to continue to be tested.

Voters appeared likely to hand the ruling Labor Party a defeat in elections for a new parliament in Norway. The key issues were high taxes, deficiencies in the public welfare system, and government hoarding of the nation's oil revenues. Earnings from oil go into a fund valued at $64 billion. But it is reserved for future generations, and Labor has argued that distributing it now would cause high inflation. A conservative victory at the polls could bring down the government of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg when parliament votes on his budget next month.

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