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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is to leave Israel today for a meeting in Washington with President Bush amid a war of words with Iran and the growing isolation of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Israeli leaders accused Iran of illegally infiltrating elite Revolutionary Guard troops into neighboring Lebanon, and each side has issued dire warnings against military attacks by the other. Meanwhile, Arafat drew an angry denunciation by the militant group Hamas for calling armed attacks against Israel "terrorism." (Related story, page 5.)

Elections for a new president of Argentina will be held Sept. 14 of next year, interim chief executive Eduardo Duhalde announced. He said he would not be a candidate. He spoke as his government was to present an austerity budget to Congress calling for $3.5 billion in spending cuts.

Police were caught unprepared for a loud protest in Caracas against Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez that dampened 10th anniversary celebrations of his unsuccessful military coup. Hundreds of black-clad demonstrators broke away from a larger protest elsewhere in the city (below) Monday and reached the front door of Chávez's residence, pointing up the sharp divide between the populist leader and his opponents, who accuse him of trying to impose a Cuba-style regime.

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The historic local elections last Sunday in Cambodia were "acceptable" only because they weren't marred by violence, an independent monitoring group reported. But it said they could not be called "free or fair" because of the flawed registration process, biased news media, and widespread intimidation during campaigning. The outcome gave Premier Hun Sen's People's Party all but 21 of the more than 1,600 offices at stake. A second monitoring group, however, said it couldn't give the elections its OK.

In a change of pace, the streets of Madagascar's capital were deserted as supporters of opposition presidential candidate Marc Ravalomanana heeded his call to shut down the city for 24 hours. The move was seen as increasing pressure on President Didier Ratsiraka to concede the Dec. 16 election, which the Supreme Court ruled inconclusive, requiring a runoff later this month. Ravalomanana refuses to contest the runoff, claiming he won the first round. The huge street protests that filled the city for eight straight days are due to resume today.

For the first time in more than 50 years, mainland Chinese arrived legally on Taiwan as tourists for four days of sightseeing. But all 15 visitors came via Japan because regulations ban travel by Chinese nationals unless they're studying or have residency rights in a third country. In relaxing its ban, Taiwan's government yielded to pressure by businesses eager to forge closer links to the burgeoning mainland economy.

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