World

The ranks of Middle East leaders were in new disarray, and critics said the 22-nation Arab League could be beyond recovery after its scheduled summit Monday in Tunisia was called off, with no new date announced. Not since 1983 has such a meeting been scrapped, and the leaders were confronting scorn from across their region for appearing weak in the face of Israel's new offensive against the Palestinians. Egypt offered to serve as host "at the earliest time that can be agreed."

Members of Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's own cabinet called on him to resign if he's charged formally in a corruption case dating back to the late 1990s. Such charges were recommended by the nation's chief prosecutor Saturday. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz could take up to two months to act, analysts said, stressing that such a recommendation will be difficult to ignore. The situation comes at a particularly awkward time for Sharon, who is proposing to pull Israeli settlers out of the hard-to-defend Gaza Strip. He has been pushed from public office before but denies wrongdoing in this case.

For security reasons, the long-awaited national election in postwar Afghanistan must be pushed back until at least early September, President Hamid Karzai announced. The voting had been scheduled for June. But the UN, citing recent violence in the city of Herat - previously considered one of the safest places in the country - and the slow registration of voters, said, "The later the election is held, the safer it is likely to be." A Taliban statement called the postponement an embarrassment for Karzai and the US and repeated its vow to disrupt the balloting.

A terrorist bomb exploded outside a popular bar in Muslim-dominated southern Thailand late Saturday, wounding 29 people, some of them critically. The incident caused Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to cancel a planned tour of European capitals and to convene an emergency meeting of his cabinet and military commanders. His spokesman said the months of violence in the region have reached "a crucial stage" and that the government will implement "stricter measures in taking care of this matter."

Fifteen men were under arrest and security forces were on high alert in Congo after attacks on military facilities and a TV station that appeared to be a coup attempt against President Joseph Kabila. Kabila was reported safe. At least 10,000 UN peacekeepers are deployed in Congo to help ease the nation out of five years of civil war.

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