THE MIDDLE EAST

Palestinian Cabinet Appeals to Militants

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat's cabinet urged militants yesterday to stop attacking Israeli civilians before an Israeli election that could change the course of more than two years of conflict.

"Attacks against Israeli civilians have severely harmed our cause in the international arena and in Israeli public opinion," the cabinet said in a statement rejecting "all acts of violence that target Palestinian and Israeli civilians."

"As the Israeli election date [Jan. 28] is getting closer, we appeal to all our people to practice self-restraint," it said.

Arafat has repeatedly called on militants to halt suicide bombings and other attacks on Israeli civilians in the 27-month-old Palestinian uprising. Israel accuses the Palestinian leader of involvement in funding and encouraging the violence, a charge he denies.

In the latest violence, a 20-year-old Palestinian was shot dead and six were wounded by Israeli troops responding to a stone-throwing crowd at a refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus, Palestinian hospital officials said. The army said troops had fired at a man who was about to throw a firebomb at them.

Reuters

AFRICA

Ivorian Rebel Group to Join Paris Talks

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Western rebels here said they would join peace talks in Paris next week, reviving hopes for a speedy end to a four-month civil war.

The Ivorian Popular Movement of the Far West, which declared Friday that it would pull out of talks after government attacks, "will go to Paris," spokesman Felix Doh said by satellite telephone from the bush. Doh said his group and an allied rebel faction would sign a cease-fire in nearby Togo before the talks in France.

Fighting broke out in Ivory Coast -- once an island of stability and prosperity in a volatile region -- with a failed coup on Sept. 19. The war has split the nation of 16 million along ethnic lines, as hundreds have been killed and more than 600,000 have been forced to flee their homes.

Reuters

EUROPE

Four N. Africans Charged in Ricin Case

LONDON -- Police charged four men with producing chemical weapons and other terrorism offenses in connection with the discovery of the deadly poison ricin in a London apartment.

The men, described only as North Africans, were among seven suspects arrested last week after an anti-terrorist raid uncovered traces of the poison, which can kill within days. There is no antidote or treatment for ricin, which is relatively easy to produce and has been linked to the al Qaeda network and the Iraqi government.

Mouloud Feddag, Sidali Feddag, Samir Feddag and Mustapha Taleb were charged with "possession of articles of value to a terrorist" and with "being concerned in the development or production of chemical weapons." A fifth suspect, Nasreddine Fekhadji, was charged with forgery and counterfeiting offenses.

The men are to appear in court Monday.

A sixth man arrested for alleged possession of drugs and immigration offenses was expected to be released on bail, police said. A seventh man was released to the custody of immigration officials.

Associated Press