World

Two Palestinian gunmen trapped inside the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem since April 2 surrendered to Israeli troops besieging the historic structure. A third Palestinian was evacuated to a hospital after being shot by a sniper. Palestinian sources said the men, although in street clothes, were police. The standoff, however, continued, with about 200 other armed men still inside. Meanwhile, Israel abruptly withdrew its approval of a UN fact-finding mission into the clashes earlier this month in Jenin, complaining that it had not been consulted adequately on the composition of the team. Israel wants both military and counterterrorism experts included in the mission. (Related stories, pages 1, 6.)

Rather than risk "the banalization of violence and hatred," French President Jacques Chirac announced his refusal to participate in a preelection TV debate with his challenger, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Buoyed by an opinion poll showing 69 percent of respondents favored such a meeting, Le Pen called the move "an intolerable attack on the rules of democracy."

A "one strike and you're out" policy appeared certain to be approved by Roman Catholic Church leaders meeting at the Vatican as a way to rid the priesthood of future child molesters. The session on Day 2 of the extraordinary meeting was not attended by Pope John Paul II, who in addressing US cardinals Tuesday said that sexual abuse by clerics was both a crime and a sin. Above, an infant is introduced to the pontiff at his weekly audience. (Related story, page 1.)

For the fifth time in slightly over a year, Argentina's economy minister resigned – amid growing opposition to his plan for pulling the nation out of four years of recession. Jorge Remes Lenicov's departure all but ensured that an emergency bailout from the International Monetary Fund would not be forthcoming, analysts said. No immediate successor was announced.

No agreement was reached on any major issue by presidents of the five nations bordering the Caspian Sea on dividing its oil and natural gas wealth. The sea's legal status has been in limbo since the collapse of the Soviet Union, delaying exploration and production at a time when Western countries are seeking alternatives to Arab oil suppliers. The two-day summit was held in Turkmenistan and also was attended by the leaders of Iran, Russia, Azerbaijan, and Kazahkstan.

From as far away as Los Angeles, people of Armenian descent and foreign diplomats gathered in Yerevan, capital of the former Soviet republic, for a tribute to the estimated 1.5 million victims of genocide at the hands of the Ottoman Empire. Smaller demonstrations were held in Tehran, Iran, in Greek cities, and in Washington. Ceremonies are held April 24 because it is the anniversary of the day in 1915 when many Armenians were executed for allegedly helping invading Russian forces in World War I.

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