World

A rabbi was shot dead and another West Bank settler was wounded in an ambush that appeared to be the first Palestinian response to Monday night's Israeli attack against a leading Hamas militant in which more than a dozen noncombatants also died. The West Bank incident came as Foreign Minister Shimon Peres made the rounds of news media offices in Jerusalem to call the Monday attack a mistake and to announce that, as a goodwill gesture, Israel would readmit 4,000 Palestinian workers denied access to their jobs as the intifada intensified. Peres also said curfews in West Bank cities and towns would be eased.

A hastily scheduled, late-night UN Security Council meeting failed to draft a resolution condemning Israel's attack on an apartment complex in Gaza City that killed more than a dozen noncombatants. Ambassadors from Arab governments were unable to agree on the final language and were expected to try again to come up with a draft Thursday. Reports said the US likely would vote against any such resolution, even though the White House called Monday night's attack "heavy-handed."

A telephoned message by a senior North Korean government official expressed regret over last month's fatal confrontation at sea with a South Korean naval unit. In a quick response, the South called the sentiment "highly significant." Kim Ryong-song, who led the North's delegation in earlier discussions on reunification of the peninsula, stopped short of accepting blame for the June 29 incident, which killed five South Korean sailors, wounded 19 others, and left one missing. But he proposed a resumption of high-level talks on such issues as reunions of families separated by the peninsula's war.

For the second time in four months, the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition party was summoned for questioning by police. Under the nation's tough internal security law, Morgan Tsvangirai was asked about alleged remarks last December advocating the overthrow of authoritarian President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai, who lost a disputed election in March, already is charged with treason for allegedly plotting to kill Mugabe, but is free on bail pending his trial. A conviction could result in a sentence of death.

Late opinion polls showed a minority coalition government likely will result from Saturday's national election in New Zealand – despite Prime Minister Helen Clark's expectations of an easy victory when she called it six weeks ago. But analysts said she has conducted a weak campaign that could cost her Labour Party at least 11 of the 60 or more seats in Parliament it appeared poised to win. That would push her into negotiations with minority parties, such as the environmentalist Greens, on a coalition. By contrast, the main opposition National Party, under the leadership of a relative novice, could lose a dozen of its 40 seats.

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