World

The leaders of Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a long- delayed, face-to-face meeting on restarting peace efforts - their first since the latter assumed his post last October. There were suggestions that Ariel Sharon and Ahmed Qureia would talk next Tuesday. Israeli news media said they'd learned that the Sharon-Qureia talks would center on the planned withdrawal of most Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip.

The UN's atomic watchdog agency is being influenced by "bullying" from the Bush administration, Iran's representative complained, adding that a continuation could "complicate" the Tehran government's cooperation in inspections of its nuclear facilities. He spoke as the International Atomic Energy Agency prepared to discuss a draft report that deplores omissions in Iran's declarations about its nuclear program, which it claims is peaceful. The US maintains that Iran is attempting to develop weapons.

A Florida resident and international business consultant was chosen as Haiti's interim prime minister. Gerard Latortue (above), who also served briefly as Haiti's foreign minister, was expected to arrive in the impoverished nation within hours to replace Yvon Neptune, who had hoped to keep the post despite the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Meanwhile, Haitian police and US marines deployed there were beginning a program to confiscate the weapons of Aristide supporters as well as opponents. (Story, page 6.)

Dozens of well-wishers turned out to greet the arrival in Pakistan of India's national cricket team for a 40-day goodwill tour - the first of significant length since 1989. Players from both countries discouraged talk of the political significance of the tour, but its intent clearly is to help continue the momentum of current peace efforts between their governments. Pakistan's Foreign Ministry also was to issue a joint statement announcing the resumption of a cross-border passenger bus route that was suspended in 1965.

In a last-ditch agreement, the government of Argentina said late Tuesday it would meet a $3.1 billion debt repayment owed to the International Monetary Fund. In return, the IMF pledged to continue lending to the Buenos Aires government. Negotiations between the two were described as testy. Still, creditors were annoyed that the IMF dropped its earlier insistance that the deal be approved by at least 80 percent of Argen-tina's bondholders. Last year, the government defaulted on a $3 billion payment, but it eventually sent the money after negotiating a new long-term loan.

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