THE MIDDLE EAST

Mubarak Slightly Hurt in Assault

PORT SAID, Egypt -- Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was assaulted yesterday by a man who approached his car as Mubarak waved to a crowd of several hundred well-wishers in this Suez Canal city about 100 miles northeast of Cairo.

"While the president was waving . . . through the car's window, a person approached the motorcade holding a sharp tool and inflicted a light wound," said a statement from the president's office. It said security guards had killed the assailant, whom the police identified as Said Hassan Suleiman, 40, a clothing vendor with "no political affiliations."

Mubarak was here to deliver a speech ahead of a Sept. 26 presidential referendum. He spoke as scheduled about an hour after the attack and made no mention of it.

Contractor Detained in Wake of Quake

ISTANBUL, Turkey -- Police detained a fugitive contractor whose allegedly substandard buildings collapsed in Turkey's recent earthquake, compounding the disaster. Veli Gocer was tracked down at a relative's house in Istanbul where he had gone into hiding after the Aug. 17 quake, private NTV television said. Police said he would be questioned in connection with hundreds of deaths.

News reports have quoted Gocer as acknowledging in telephone interviews that nearly 500 of the 3,000 units that he built in the town of Yalova collapsed in the 7.4-magnitude quake.

THE AMERICAS

Baja California Braces for Hurricane Greg

MEXICO CITY -- Motorists lined up outside gas stations, and residents and tourists packed supermarkets in the Mexican resort town of Cabo San Lucas as Tropical Storm Greg became Hurricane Greg and closed in on land.

Authorities began evacuating hundreds of residents in low-lying areas as Greg's winds strengthened to 75 mph over the Pacific Ocean. The center of the storm was projected to pass just south of Cabo San Lucas, on the southernmost tip of the Baja California peninsula.

Four Inmates Killed in Colombian Prison

BOGOTA, Colombia -- At least four inmates died in a shootout at a high-security prison in Bogota, while three convicts held 65 women and children hostage for a second day in a jail in central Colombia, officials said. The violence was some of the worst in Colombia's chaotic, overcrowded and notoriously violent prisons since mid-June. A spokesman for the national prison authority blamed the killings in Bogota's La Modelo prison, the largest in the country, on vendettas between rival gangs.

Paraguay, Argentina, Uruguay in Dispute

BUENOS AIRES -- Argentina protested "insults" from Paraguay in an escalating dispute in the Mercosur trade bloc over the refusal of Paraguay's partners to extradite an accused coup plotter and his associates. But Argentina and Uruguay said they were not about to put the world's third-largest trade bloc at risk by breaking off relations with Paraguay, even though all three countries have recalled their ambassadors in the past three days.

Paraguay's president accused Argentina and Uruguay of acting on "unfriendly ignorance" by continuing to shelter coup conspirators and their associates. Its partners in the four-nation South American customs union -- which also includes Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay -- have granted asylum to men Paraguay wants to put on trial for crimes including the murder of Vice President Luis Maria Argana.

ASIA

China, U.S. Resume Talks on WTO Bid

BEIJING -- After a four-month hiatus, Chinese and U.S. trade officials resumed talks on China's bid to enter the World Trade Organization, a U.S. official said. China suspended talks with the United States on WTO admission in May to protest the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia.

China wants to enter the world trade rule-making body to spur its economy, even though reforms in the near term would likely mean more layoffs and factory closures because of increased international competition.

Albright, in Vietnam, Stresses MIA Issue HANOI -- Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright said trade and economic issues are important in U.S.-Vietnamese relations but accounting for American MIAs is still the top priority. At a news conference en route to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in New Zealand, Albright expressed gratitude for Vietnamese cooperation in tracking down and recovering the remains of former U.S. soldiers. "This issue remains paramount to the United States," Albright said.

EUROPE

N. Ireland Leaders Meet to Review Peace Pact

BELFAST -- Northern Ireland's political leaders gathered for a review of a once-promising peace process that has fallen into bitter stalemate. The pessimism was palpable among the heads of the major parties, but there was one ray of hope: the presence of George Mitchell, the former U.S. Senate majority leader who overcame countless other stalemates from 1996 to 1998 as leader of the multi-party negotiations that produced last year's Good Friday agreement.

Mitchell somewhat reluctantly returned to Belfast at the urging of Britain and Ireland to try to rekindle the sense of cooperation that fostered the 1998 agreement. "I believe it can be done," Mitchell said. "Whether it is done will be up to the political leaders."

AFRICA

Kenyan President Reorganizes Cabinet

NAIROBI -- President Daniel arap Moi slashed the number of ministries from 27 to 15 in a bid to streamline government and restore confidence in the economy. The number of ministers remains the same, however, with some departments having more than one head and the number of ministers of state in the president's office also increasing. The initial reaction from analysts and economists was skeptical, with some saying the number of ministers should also have been cut.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This is the beginning of the African nation to mold itself for research. . . . It means a lot to human being lovers."

Dukali Megharief, chairman of the Libyan Arab Domestic Investment Co., on the new automobile ostensibly designed by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi -- Page A13