World

The Palestinian leadership OK'd Israel's proposal for a gradual withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip in return for assurances of an end to attacks. Palestinian Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said some details still had to be worked out, however. The decision came as a Palestinian delegation arrived in Washington for talks, and as Israeli troops killed five Palestinians and arrested four during raids to hunt for suspected militants.

Ties between Saudi Arabia and the US remain "excellent," Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal said, brushing off a reported Pentagon briefing in July that described the conservative kingdom as a financier of Islamic terrorists. "Unfortunately, there are people in certain departments who try to raise doubts," he added. Powell phoned the prince Tuesday to offer assurances that the Bush administration regards Riyadh as a longtime ally. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld denounced the leak of the classified briefing as "harmful" and "unprofessional."

A landslide triggered by monsoon rains left five dead and 10 others injured in Bombay, India. In the past two months, the annual storms have claimed more than 650 lives in eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh. Flooding has submerged nearly half of Bangladesh and displaced 6 million people.

"Threats against Iraq ... are doomed to fail," parliament peaker Saadoun Hammadi said defiantly Wednesday, with President Saddam Hussein slated to make a major national address Thursday. Hammadi also repeated an invitation to members of the US Congress to come and check for themselves that Baghdad isn't developing weapons of mass destruction, an idea the White House has dismissed.

The International Monetary Fund should move "as quickly as possible" on aid for Argentina, US Treasury Secretary O'Neill said after talks with top leaders in Buenos Aires. The position reversed his previous comment that aid would only end up in the pockets of corrupt officials. Thousands of unemployed gathered to protest the visit. It was the last stop on O'Neill's four-day trip to assess an economic crisis that has spread to Brazil and Uruguay.

With US aircraft on patrol above and nearby streets closed, Alvaro Uribe was to be sworn in as Colombia's new president. The Harvard-educated lawyer was elected on a get-tough platform toward leftist rebels, and there were concerns of an assassination attempt.

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