Israel's Cabinet OK'd a US plan that would lift the siege of Yasser Arafat's West Bank compound. But it blocked a UN fact-finding team assigned to look into the clash earlier this month in Jenin, pending "further clarification of current issues." Israel objects to the composition of the team and its planned scope of inquiry. If the Palestinians also accept the US plan, Arafat could move freely in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In exchange, US and British personnel would guard six militants wanted by Israel.

Tensions were building in France with one week to go before the runoff election for president between incumbent Jacques Chirac and ultrarightist leader Jean-Marie Le Pen. Hundreds of thousands of anti-Le Pen demonstrators marched in Paris (above) and other major cities Saturday. But up to 30,000 police are to be deployed in the capital Wednesday, May Day, when labor unions hold a traditional rally. Le Pen's National Front also is scheduled to march in Paris Wednesday.

An easy victory appears likely tomorrow for Pakistan's self-declared president in a referendum on whether his term should be extended five more years. The last barrier to Pervez Musharraf's maneuver fell Saturday, when the Supreme Court rejected an opposition plea to block the vote. He is under a court order to hold elections for Parliament by October, but hinted he might cut legislators' terms from five years to three.

Despite the shooting spree at their school that killed 17 people last Friday, students in Erfurt, Germany, were demanding that it reopen as soon as possible. The attack was blamed on a gun enthusiast who was seeking revenge for being expelled. Classmates said they also don't want a memorial outside the school to "remind us of what happened each time we pass."

The two-week-old deal between the rivals for Madagascar's presidency appeared to be in tatters after incumbent Didier Ratsiraka announced he did not want a recount of the disputed Dec. 16 election after all. Instead, Ratsiraka said he favors a referendum to decide whether he or challenger Marc Ravalomanana should lead the nation. Results of the recount, ordered by the Supreme Court April 10, are to be announced today.

A helicopter crash killed Alexander Lebed, a prominent Russian politician and onetime Army general credited with brokering the deal that ended the Kremlin's war against Muslim rebels in Chechnya. After turning to politics, he finished third in the election for president of Russia in 1996. He was governor of the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk at the time of his death.

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