USA

President Bush meets with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon today after weekend discussions with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. Bush rejected a specific timetable for Palestinian statehood, as Mubarak had wanted, but said "we have to get started quickly" on the issue. In Sunday's New York Times, Sharon argued against what he termed "a rigid timetable" for a peace settlement, calling instead for a long-term interim agreement with the Palestinians. Negotiations, he added, require "a reliable partner for peace."

One thousand US soldiers are being moved from an air base in Uzbekistan after traces of nerve and mustard gas were found there, a military spokesman said. It's thought the traces were due to chemical weapons stored at the former Soviet military site before the 1991 collapse of Soviet Union. The US troops were based there as part of the counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan.

More than 200 Roman Catholic priests have been removed from their posts this year due to allegations they sexually abused children, the Washington Post reported. At least 850 priests have been accused of such misconduct since the 1960s, the paper said, a number far larger than church officials previously indicated and one that underscored a lack of reliable statistics. The Post compiled its survey on information from 96 dioceses out of 178 contacted. US bishops are to vote on voluntary measures to address the clergy sex-abuse scandal at a conference in Dallas this week. (Related story, page 2.)

Defense attorneys said they'll appeal Michael Skakel's conviction in the 1975 murder of a Greenwich, Conn., neighbor. Both victim Martha Moxley and Skakel, whose aunt is the widow of US Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, were teenagers at the time of the killing. Skakel faces 10 years to life in prison at his sentencing, set for July 19.

A fast-moving wildfire prompted the evacuation of 2,000 people near Glenwood Springs, Colo. The blaze damaged at least 40 buildings and scorched up to 7,000 acres. It's burning near the base of Storm King Mountain, where a 1994 fire killed 14 firefighters. Above, smoke billows across the resort community.

The US unemployment rate fell to 5.8 percent in May, from a near-eight-year high of 6 percent in April, the Labor Department reported Friday. Some analysts dismissed the unexpected decline as a fluke as the economy recovers.

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