Iraq's parliament was in delay mode for its special session to review the proposed national constitution as the Monitor went to press. A spokesman said the meeting had been postponed for two hours in the hope that the draft charter could still be finished by midnight, local time. But "they will talk on beyond midnight if necessary," he said. As has been the case for weeks, the drafters reportedly were still deadlocked over two issues: the extent of regional autonomy and whether Iraq will be subject to sharia, or Islamic law.

With a mixture of tears and defiance, Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip confronted the first efforts of Israeli defense forces to serve them with notices setting a 48-hour deadline to leave. For their part, Palestinians generally watched the start of the withdrawal calmly, although Israeli soldiers fired into the air to disperse marchers heading toward one settlement, and Hamas activists hung banners in Gaza City claiming responsibility for forcing out the settlers militarily.

A truce aimed at ending three decades of fighting was signed by Indonesian government representatives and rebels from Aceh Province. In neutral Finland, the two sides agreed to an amnesty that's scheduled to begin Sept. 15. The deal also calls for the rebels to disarm, limits the freedom of movement of government troops on the oil- and gas-rich island, and gives Acehnese 70 percent of the royalties from the extraction of such resources. In return, the Free Aceh Movement pledged to drop its campaign for an independent state. But its leader warned at the signing that local militias, whom he said were armed by government troops, had the potential to wreck the accord.

Its relations with some neighboring countries at the lowest point in years, Japan's government observed the 60th anniversary of surrender in World War II by apologizing again for the harm caused by its forces more than a half-century ago. Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi pledged that such atrocities would never be forgotten or happen again. He also sought to avoid new controversy by choosing not to pay a traditional visit to a shrine in Tokyo that honors convicted wartime leaders. Japan's ties with China, both Koreas, and Taiwan are strained over World War II memories, nuclear weaponry, and conflicting claims to offshore natural gas deposits.

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