World

Expressions of praise were being heard from around the world for Libya's pledge to halt its banned-weapons program amid reports that Muammar Qaddafi's regime was closer to developing a nuclear bomb than had been believed. Prime Minister Shokri Ghanem told the BBC his country expected appreciation for "turning our swords into plowshares," but officials of the Bush administration said it was too soon to indicate whether - or even if - the US would lift its economic sanctions. In London, Prime Minister Blair's office contradicted British newspaper reports that he planned to reward Qaddafi with a personal meeting.

Senior Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to meet not later than Tuesday for the purpose of setting up direct talks between Prime Ministers Ariel Sharon and Ahmed Qureia on reviving peace efforts. One knowledgeable Israeli source said the prime ministers would get together "during the week." The developments followed last Thursday night's speech on security by Sharon, in which he said Israel would impose its own territorial boundary on the Palestinians if they did not make serious moves toward peace within six months. Unilateral Israeli action, Sharon said, would leave the Palestinians with far less land than they want for a future state. Against that backdrop, Israeli security forces arrested Adnan Asfour, identified as the West Bank leader of Hamas, in a raid Sunday.

Despite his reported failing health, President Lansana Conte appeared headed for easy victory in Guinea's national election Sunday. He faced only token opposition from a member of parliament whose party is loosely affiliated with the president's Party of Unity and Progress. All other candidates withdrew last month, announcing a boycott of the election and accusing Conte of vote-rigging. Conte has held power since 1984, although he has survived coup attempts and mutinies by members of the armed forces. Guinea controls one-third of the world's bauxite reserves.

At least 99 people were reported dead and more than 120 others remained missing after the year's worst natural disaster in the Philippines. Heavy rains and a tornado battered eastern and southern provinces, causing massive landslides. Authorities said the problems were compounded by illegal logging, which left mountainsides in the region bare, and relief efforts were made more difficult by blocked roads and downed power lines. Above, residents react to the scene in a hard-hit town in Leyte Province.

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