World

Israel called off Sunday's planned meeting between Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and suggested that it might annex more of the West Bank unless peace prospects improve. A senior Army commander also warned that if Palestinian rockets continue to be launched at Israeli targets from inside the northern Gaza Strip, it might force the evacuation of the area and shell it until Abbas exerts control over local militants. No new date for the Sharon-Abbas summit has been set, Palestinian sources said.

A female terrorist set off explosives strapped to her body at an Army recruitment center in Tal Afar, Iraq, killing herself and at least five applicants and wounding 53 others. Reports said the attack was the first by a woman that's known to have succeeded since the toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein; two years ago, guards at a government building in Baghdad caught a female would-be bomber before she could carry out her mission. The recruitment center was opened after Iraqi and US forces appeared to have rid Tal Afar of terrorists. The city is a short distance from Iraq's border with Syria and had been a staging area for foreign radicals.

Voters are being asked to say "yes" Thursday in a referendum in Algeria on extending forgiveness to the forces responsible for more than a decade of atrocities. The Charter for Peace and National Reconciliation, proposed by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, aims to help heal the wounds that opened when the Army canceled a 1992 national election almost certain to be won by Islamic fundamentalists. In the violence that followed, an estimated 120,000 people disappeared or were killed in violence blamed on Muslim extremists, government forces, or both. The measure would halt the prosecutions of most participants and offer reparations to the families of persons whose fate remains unknown.

A new political crisis loomed in Ivory Coast after President Laurent Gbagbo called off next month's national election because antigovernment rebels haven't surrendered their weapons. In a TV address Tuesday, he also said the Constitution permits him to remain in power even though his term expires Oct. 30, the date set for the vote. A peace deal agreed to in April calls on the rebels to disarm. Despite their failure to do so, hostilities basically have ended, although the nation remains tense. Gbagbo has refused to attend a meeting of regional heads of state Friday to discuss the situation.

President Vladimir Putin appeared largely in control of Russia's massive energy sector after the $13 billion takeover by state-owned Gazprom of Sibneft, a leading oil company. Gazprom is the world's No. 1 producer of natural gas. Privately owned Sibneft was about to be bought in 2003 by rival Yukos, until Putin's government began prosecution of Yukos's owner, Mikhail Khodorkovsky, on tax-evasion charges. Khodorkovsky now is in prison and Yukos's choicest assets were confiscated and sold at auction.

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