World

The first signs of possible compromise by radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr were being reported in Iraq as he met with representatives of more senior ayatollahs. Sources close to the situation said Sadr was prepared to disband the militia that has clashed so widely with coalition forces if ordered to do so by his superiors. Sadr is under an arrest warrant, and US commanders have vowed to arrest or kill him and destroy his "army." An estimated 2,500 American troops are massed outside the holy city of Najaf, Sadr's base, but analysts said an attack would risk enraging Iraq's Shiite majority.

Three Arabs were in police custody in Budapest, Hungary, for what was described as a plot to bomb the city's new Holocaust Memorial Center Thursday as Israeli President Moshe Katsav helped to inaugurate it. His visit was proceeding, but under intense security precautions. In other Muslim terrorism-related incidents:

• Four police were shot to death by militants at a checkpoint near Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But police intercepted two cars packed with explosives before they reached their targets.

• Three more suspects were arrested in Spain for their alleged roles in the March 11 Madrid train bombings. A Madrid newspaper reported that police also found documents indicating a plot to bomb a Jewish meeting center and a 200-store shopping mall.

• A militant who posed an "imminent threat" to international humanitarian aid workers in Afghanistan was captured in a raid by intelligence agents and Canadian peacekeepers in Kabul.

At least six Jewish settlements in the West Bank will "continue to be ... part of Israel for all eternity," Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed as he left for meetings in Washington with US leaders. He repeated his government's intention that Arab sections of eastern Jerusalem would remain Israeli, although the Palestinians want the area for their capital. His Palestinian Authority counterpart, Ahmed Qureia, said, "With such a statement, Sharon is destroying any hope for peace between the two peoples." Meanwhile, Sharon's Likud movement postponed its referendum on the proposed Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip from April 29 to May 2, on grounds that a basketball championship game could lower turnout.

Critics blasted a proposed 10-foot-high wall around crime- infested slums in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's leading tourist destination. The state government came forward with the plan Monday, following a new wave of violence over the Easter weekend that killed 10 people, among them innocent bystanders and police. The violence was blamed on rival gangs seeking to control the drug, firearms, and car-theft trades. Lt. Gov. Luiz Paolo Conde said the wall wouldn't end crime, "but if we don't contain it, it will destroy the economy and the lives of the city's residents."

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