"Useful and constructive" is how Secretary of State Powell termed talks with Yasser Arafat Sunday, with no indication of progress on his cease-fire mission. In their meeting at the Ramallah headquarters where the Palestinian leader is confined by Israeli forces, Powell reportedly pressed Arafat to stop the suicide bomb attacks that led Israel to launch its military operation more than two weeks ago. Arafat reportedly expressed concerns about Jenin, the refugee camp that's been the scene of the heaviest fighting. Powell travels today to Syria and Lebanon, from where Hizbullah militants have been firing rockets into Israel, threatening to widen the conflict. (Story, page 6.)

Two days after a military coup, Venezuela's populist President Hugo Chavez (below, center, with arm raised) was back in power Sunday. In a largely conciliatory speech, Chavez pledged not to retaliate against his opponents, saying that both sides had made mistakes. The heads of the armed forces announced his removal Friday after gunmen killed 11 anti-government protesters the day before. That touched off massive demonstrations by Chavez supporters and intervention by loyal rank-and-file troops.

More than 300 people may have been killed in a raid by Maoist rebels in western Nepal last week, police in the Himalayan kingdom said Sunday. More than 100 bodies, most of them police, have been recovered so far around Dang, the site of Thursday's clash. But authorities there said as many as 250 rebels also were believed dead. The six-year insurgency has claimed more than 3,500 lives.

Preliminary figures showed high turnout of 86 percent for East Timor's presidential election, the final step toward statehood. Former rebel leader Xanana Gusmao was projected to win by a landslide. United Nations administrator Sergio Vieria de Mello hailed Sunday's vote as the last step before "the launch of the first new nation of the millennium." The UN took charge after a 1999 referendum on independence from Indonesia touched off a rampage by pro-Jakarta militias.

After unfurling a banner in support of the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement, an American student was detained by police in Beijing's Tiananmen Square Sunday. It was the latest in a string of demonstrations by foreign supporters of the group. China has labeled it an "evil cult" and allegedly has sent thousands of domestic adherents to labor camps.

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