President Clinton prepared yesterday to host Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat, who will meet at the White House today for the signing of an agreement giving the Palestinians limited self-rule in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho. But speculation surfaced over whether Mr. Rabin and Mr. Arafat would embrace or shake hands. Rabin's wife told Israeli radio yesterday that she believes her husband will shake the hand of Israel's long-time enemy. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says he, too, will shake hands. A PLO official says Arafat will offer a handshake and a hug if he gets a warm greeting from the Israelis. Discovery launched

The space shuttle Discovery soared toward orbit yesterday with five astronauts on a long-overdue mission to deliver a pair of satellites and practice spacewalking. It was the fourth launch attempt for the mission in two months. Aristide supporter slain

Gunmen on Saturday broke up a mass in Port-au-Prince being held to commemorate those slain in a military-backed massacre five years ago. Antoine Izmery, a leading supporter of exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was killed. A Roman Catholic priest said the assassins of Izmery were plainclothes police agents. Bosnia partition pact close

Lord David Owen told EC ministers meeting in Belgium over the weekend that he thinks agreement in suspended talks on the partition of Bosnia-Herzegovina into three loosely aligned republics is "just weeks away." He said current efforts to ensure Bosnian Muslims access to a seaport would be crucial in convincing the Muslims to return to the talks in Geneva. US Defense Secretary Les Aspin spoke at the conference yesterday, saying some 50,000 peacekeepers would be needed to implement a peace accord, and about half the troops would be American. Mr. Aspin predicted it would be hard to get the Congress to approve US participation if US allies didn't contribute at least half the force. India bombings

Four bombs exploded across India yesterday, killing two people and damaging a strategic bridge. The attacks came one day after a car bomb killed eight people in an apparent attempt to assassinate a top politician. No one claimed responsibility for the bombings.India, a nation of 880 million people, is contending with separatist campaigns by Sikhs in the Punjab, Muslims in Jammu-Kashmir state, and sporadic operations by tribespeople in the northeast. Nigeria vote is set

Nigeria's two political parties and the National Electoral Commission, all creations of former dictator Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, said in a short statement on Friday that a new presidential election will be held Feb. 19. General Babangida voided the results of the June 12 ballot, which businessman Moshood Abiola apparently won.

Georgia may see martial law

Eduard Shevardnadze, facing an insurrection in western Georgia by supporters of the former president, threatened to impose emergency rule throughout his troubled country yesterday. Mr. Shevardnadze was expected to make his decision at a meeting with Georgian military commanders later yesterday. Joint review on Yanomami

The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry said Saturday that Brazil had accepted its proposal to form a joint commission to investigate a massacre of Yanomami Indians in the Amazon jungle on their common border. The most recent reports say illegal Brazilian gold miners slaughtered about 70 Yanomami two months ago in Venezuela. The killings were reported Aug. 17. Allende's overthrow marked

Demonstrators clashed with police, and bombs exploded as Chile marked the 20th anniversary of the military coup led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet. He seized power on Sept. 11, 1973, overthrowing President Salvador Allende. The military controlled the government for 17 years until Patricio Aylwin was elected in 1990.

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