The senior Afghan Muslim clerics charged with recommending whether to surrender Osama bin Laden to the US delayed their decision for at least one more day. But there were signs they'd propose extraditing the accused terrorism-financier for trial in a "neutral" Islamic country in return for the lifting of UN sanctions against the ruling Taliban and international recognition of the Taliban as Afghan-istan's legitimate government. Meanwhile, the Taliban warned of a "jihad" against the US.

In related developments:

• Neighboring Iran signaled it would not oppose "targeted" US strikes against those believed responsible for last week's terrorist attacks. But in Karachi, Pakistan, an estimated 5,000 protesters chanted, "America, don't hunt what you can't kill," in the largest demonstration yet against their government's pledge to assist the US.

• Afghanistan's major cities were emptying as the number of people fleeing expected US military attacks (above) grew to the tens of thousands. UN aid officials said only about three weeks' food stocks remained for the population.

• In the first public sign that Iraq also considers itself a target for US retaliation, Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan warned "citizens" to be "more alert in the next phase."

Palestinian security forces were ordered by Yasser Arafat not even to fire on Israeli troops in self-defense. In amplifying Monday's declaration of a unilateral cease-fire, the Palestinian Authority president won praise from Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, who hoped the "new tone" would continue. It was not clear whether Arafat would attempt to deal harshly with Palestinian militants such as Hamas if they continued anti-Israeli attacks. A Hamas spokesman suggested the group wouldn't challenge him for now.

A new round of reunions for families separated by the Korean war was agreed to by negotiators for the North's and South's governments. The get-togethers, expected to involve 100 people from each side, were scheduled for Oct. 16-18. Meeting in Seoul, the negotiators also announced further meetings to try to speed up progress on other reconciliation objectives. But no mention was made of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il's yet-to-be-paid return visit to the South.

A new suspension of the power-sharing Protestant/Catholic administration in Northern Ireland appeared likely, with no new initiatives on disarmament on the horizon and British Prime Minister Tony Blair deeply involved in the developing global response to terrorism. Protestants have until Saturday to fill the top administrative post vacated in July by Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble. They've vowed not even to nominate anyone until the Irish Republican Army surrenders the first of its vast arsenal of weapons.

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