Israel Redraws Route

Of Separation Barrier

JERUSALEM -- The Israeli Defense Ministry has mapped out a new route for the separation barrier in the West Bank that heeds a Supreme Court order to reduce hardships for Palestinians and runs closer to Israel's 1967 border, officials said Monday.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, insisted he would go ahead with his plan to pull soldiers and Jewish settlers out of the Gaza Strip despite a huge demonstration against it Sunday, when thousands of protesters formed a human chain stretching about 55 miles from Gaza to Jerusalem.

In the West Bank, a solution appeared near in the political crisis surrounding the Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, as his prime minister was reported ready to rescind his resignation. Palestinian officials said Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia was weighing assurances from Arafat that he would have more authority to make reforms.

Qureia could announce the withdrawal of his resignation letter after a meeting Tuesday with Arafat, a move that would end a two-week standoff.

Elements of the new route for the barrier will be presented this week to Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz for their approval, security officials said on condition of anonymity. Details of the new map were not available, but officials said the barrier would run much closer to the internationally recognized cease-fire line of 1967 than originally planned.

The decision to redraw the route was in line with an order by the Israeli Supreme Court last month to make the barrier less disruptive of Palestinian lives, but it ignored a ruling by the International Court of Justice -- the United Nations' highest judicial body -- that the barrier was illegal and must be torn down.

THE AMERICAS

* LIMA, Peru -- President Alejandro Toledo denied reports he had a received a bribe of more than $5 million and pledged to open his bank accounts for investigators if they demanded to see them.

Peru's top news magazine, Caretas, reported that a former adviser to Toledo, Cesar Almeyda, who is awaiting trial on corruption charges, told its reporter from jail in February that a company paid Toledo in exchange for favors.

Almeyda did not name the company or say where any such cash was deposited, the magazine said. Caretas did not quote him directly.

"If investigators decide, and it is necessary . . . I authorize secrecy to be lifted on my bank accounts in Peru and in the world," Toledo told reporters.

In a televised message to the nation a week ago, Toledo strenuously denied bribery and electoral fraud allegations.

* SANTA CLARA, Cuba -- Cuban leader Fidel Castro questioned President Bush's mental fitness and rejected as "lies and slanders" recent charges by Bush that Cuba encourages sex tourism.

Addressing the nation on the anniversary of his initial guerrilla uprising 51 years ago, Castro portrayed Bush as a dangerous religious fundamentalist bent on destroying Cuban socialism.

EUROPE

* BUDAPEST -- Secretary of State Colin L. Powell arrived in Budapest to thank officials for keeping 354 Hungarian troops in Iraq despite an upsurge in violence against foreigners.

Powell, who was scheduled to stay 18 hours, planned discussions with Foreign Minister Laszlo Kovacs and other officials on Tuesday. He then is slated to leave for the Middle East, stopping in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

Officials said Powell would also visit Bosnia, where a NATO-led force, including about 900 Americans, has been keeping the peace since a three-year war ended in 1995. The officials did not say when the stop would occur.

ASIA

* JAKARTA, Indonesia -- President Megawati Sukarnoputri will face her former chief security minister, Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, in a presidential runoff election, according to official results of the first round announced Monday.

The election commission tally confirmed projections released shortly after the July 5 vote showing that Yudhoyono had won a comfortable victory but fell short of the majority required to avoid a runoff, which is scheduled for Sept. 20.

The final results gave Yudhoyono 33.5 percent of the vote, followed by Megawati with 26.6 percent. The former armed forces commander, Gen. Wiranto, had 22.2 percent. Two other candidates trailed farther behind.

-- Alan Sipress

* SEOUL, South Korea -- About 200 North Koreans arrived on Tuesday from an unidentified Asian country, the largest group of defectors to reach South Korea, the Yonhap news agency said. It said they arrived at an airport outside Seoul on a chartered plane arranged by the South Korean government.

The 200 were among 460 defectors that South Korea is trying to bring in from an unnamed Southeast Asian country. The second group was expected to arrive Wednesday.

* PATNA, India -- Authorities recovered more than 100 decomposed bodies Monday as floodwaters receded in eastern India, raising the death toll across India to nearly 700 since June.

In Assam state, rescuers recovered seven more bodies after a boat capsized, police said. Ten bodies were pulled from the site Sunday. The boat was ferrying passengers to safety when it flipped.

* HONG KONG -- In a rare show of unity, Hong Kong's two major political parties demanded that the government explain why its corruption commission raided the offices of six newspapers and confiscated reporters' notebooks.

The weekend raids followed the newspapers' disclosure of the name of a witness protected by the government in a corruption inquiry. Such disclosure is a crime in Hong Kong.

The government denied trampling on press freedom, but the main pro-democracy party and a party that is usually pro-government seized on the controversy as legislative elections approach.

-- From News Services