The Bush administration offered no immediate reaction to a declaration by Iraq's justice minister that the trial of Saddam Hussein will be over by year's end. Abdel Hussein Shandal suggested to the Associated Press, however, that US officials have tried to limit access to the ousted dictator because "It seems there are lots of secrets they want to hide." He did not specify what he meant. The US has urged caution in trying Hussein for war crimes before Iraq has developed a competent judicial system.

For the second time in three weeks, a leading Lebanese opponent of Syria was assassinated. Suspicion immediately fell on Syrian intelligence agents and their allies in Lebanon's security services for the murder of former Communist Party leader George Hawi. He died as plastic explosive detonated in his car in Beirut two days after an anti- Syrian alliance won a majority of seats in Lebanon's parliament. A similar explosion killed newspaper columnist Samir Kassir June 2.

Despite predictions to the contrary, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly offered to yield control of two more West Bank towns in his meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Officials close to their second summit said the handover would come within two weeks if Abbas did more to curb Palestinian militants. So far, however, Abbas has preferred to influence militants through persuasion. The meeting was described as tense, and neither side issued a statement afterward. It took place after an Israeli roundup of 52 suspected Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank, the biggest security sweep since the first Sharon-Abbas summit in February.

Without saying why, the rebel Zapatista Army of National Liberation in southern Mexico declared a "red alert" Monday, closing its offices, taking its clandestine radio stations off the air, and sending its leaders back into hiding. The move was the first of its type since 1997, when a paramilitary force swept through the area, killing 45 people. Human rights activists in Chiapas State said the pullout could only be in response to "an important mobilization" by the Mexican Army, but the government denied any such activity.

Cardinal Jaime Sin, who died in Manila, was the Roman Catholic archbishop of the Philippines for 27 years until his retirement in 2003. But his greatest fame resulted from rallying 1 million antigovernment protesters in the "People Power" revolt of 1986 that toppled longtime dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

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