Hours late, Charles Taylor reluctantly surrendered his hold on the presidency of Liberia and watched somberly as his deputy, Moses Blah, accepted the oath of office. But other African leaders, gathered in Monrovia for the ceremonies, said Blah would serve only until October, then would hand power to a transitional administration. Taylor had yet to leave for exile in Nigeria as the Monitor went to press. He was said to be late for the ceremonies because he was welcoming the arriving dignitaries at the airport.

In a blunt warning, the government of Israel told neighboring Syria that targets there "could inevitably" be struck "if there is escalation" of attacks by Hizbullah guerrillas. In the meantime, a senior defense official said, Israeli reconnaissance missions over Lebanon - from which Sunday's deadly shelling occurred - would continue. Hiz-bullah said the shelling was aimed at Israeli jets and would resume if there were more overflights.

With the blessing of their respective government leaders, dozens of journalists and politicians from India and Pakistan ended a two-day conference on building the types of cultural ties that could hasten peace between the nuclear rivals. But expectations were being kept "modest," participants said, and Pakistan's Foreign Ministry accused India of being behind acts of terrorism on its side of the dividing line in disputed Kashmir. Still, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said his government would "do its best to follow the track of dialogue" in resolving mutual disputes.

Another gunfight between police and fugitives in the capital of Saudi Arabia resulted in the arrests of "eight to 10" suspected Muslim militants, authorities said. It was not immediately clear whether those arrested were linked to Al Qaeda or to the terrorist bombings in May that killed 26 people, but explosives and other suspect materials were found at the scene, reports said. The clash was the third of its type in the kingdom in less than a month.

Advocates for the elderly complained about the perceived indifference of French health officials as Europe's week-long heat wave was blamed for more than 40 deaths in metropolitan Paris. The toll elsewhere stood at another 40, reports said, in temperatures as high as 105 degrees F. Hospitals in Paris were filling up with aged patients, and fire brigades were distributing bags of ice to sweltering residents. But with no break in sight, the heat was affecting electricity production, and the government urged that air conditioning be used sparingly.

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