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WORLD IN BRIEF

Friday, August 20, 2004; Page A11

Sharon, Arafat Resist Demands for Change

JERUSALEM -- Embattled leaders Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat rebuffed demands from their backers Thursday, holding steadfast to positions posing great political risk. Sharon insisted he would press efforts to pull out of the Gaza Strip despite a stinging rebuke from his party, while Arafat refused to sign reform legislation.

The internal power struggles foreshadowed difficulties for Sharon's plan to evacuate all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank, as well as hopes for meaningful reform of the corruption-plagued Palestinian administration and its security forces.

_____News from Nepal_____
Bombs Explode in Nepal Capital as Rebel Siege Bites (Reuters, Aug 20, 2004)
Rebels Explode Two Bombs in Katmandu (Associated Press, Aug 20, 2004)
Rebels Explode Two Bombs in Katmandu (Associated Press, Aug 20, 2004)
Two Wounded in Second Bomb Blast in Nepal Capital (Reuters, Aug 20, 2004)
Two Wounded in Second Bomb Blast in Nepal Capital (Reuters, Aug 20, 2004)
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Israel's opposition Labor Party leader, Shimon Peres, called for early elections, effectively calling off talks to enter the government after Sharon's Likud party barred him from any negotiations.

ASIA

SEOUL -- A group of 15 North Korean defectors, including six children, sneaked into South Korea's consulate in Beijing and asked for asylum, the Yonhap news agency reported.

About 110 North Koreans are currently staying in the compound of South Korea's consulate in Beijing, waiting to be sent to the South, Yonhap said.

KATMANDU, Nepal -- Roads leading to Nepal's capital had little vehicle traffic for a second day as an unprecedented blockade of the city by Maoist rebels triggered fuel rationing and pushed food prices up.

The guerrillas' call for an indefinite blockade -- and an implied threat to attack vehicles that violate it -- has disrupted the supply of food and goods to Katmandu, a city of 1.5 million people ringed by hills.

The Maoists have not physically stopped movement of vehicles in and out of Katmandu, but residents fear they could launch attacks. The army is guarding the roads and there has been no violence.

SRINAGAR, India -- The head of a guerrilla group fighting for Kashmir's merger with Pakistan was killed by Indian soldiers in a gun battle hours before President Abdul Kalam began a rare visit to the region, an official said.

Manzoorul Islam, identified as the head of the Jamait ul-Mujaheddin, was in a car in Srinagar, the summer capital of the disputed region, when the gun battle erupted after soldiers signaled the vehicle to stop.

THE AMERICAS

• GUATEMALA CITY -- Guatemala agreed to pay former paramilitary fighters hundreds of millions of dollars for wartime activity that human rights activists say included massacres, rapes and torture.

The ex-fighters had threatened to block roads and airports if Congress failed to give them $600 each for helping the army crush a rebel uprising in the 1980s.


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