Sharon to Meet Palestinian Leader;

Israel Expected to Free 400 Prisoners

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will hold a long-delayed one-on-one meeting June 21, the two sides announced Wednesday.

The announcement came on the eve of Israel's expected release of 400 Palestinian prisoners.

The two leaders last met on Feb. 8 in Egypt, but efforts to arrange a new summit had stumbled over Israel's complaints that Abbas has failed to disarm radicals and Palestinian demands for Israel to pull troops away from more West Bank towns and free more prisoners.

Abbas, 69, underwent a heart angioplasty Wednesday in a Jordanian hospital to clear a blood vessel, one of his top aides said. He was completing a trip abroad and was expected back in the West Bank on Thursday.


* CANBERRA, Australia -- Indonesia shut its embassy in Australia after receiving an envelope containing a biological agent, as a public backlash rages against the conviction in Bali of an Australian on drug charges.

Authorities said white powder in the envelope belonged to a family of agents that can cause anthrax. "Plainly it is not just a case of some white powder being sent," Australian Prime Minister John Howard said.

Schapelle Corby, 27, a former beauty school student, received 20 years in prison Friday for smuggling nine pounds of marijuana into Bali in October. She maintains her innocence.

* BEIJING -- Beijing police have leveled an accusation of fraud against a Chinese researcher for the New York Times who was arrested last year on a charge of leaking state secrets to foreigners, his lawyer said. The new accusation against Zhao Yan means he can be held another seven months without trial.

* BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- About 200 people broke into Kyrgyzstan's Supreme Court and evicted activists who had occupied the building for more than a month in a protest on behalf of five losing candidates for parliament.

the middle east

* DAMASCUS, Syria -- Syrian authorities handed over the body of a Kurdish Muslim cleric to his family after arresting suspects who confessed to his abduction and killing, the official SANA news agency reported. Some Kurdish politicians have blamed the May 10 disappearance of Mohammad Maashouq Khaznawi on the government.


* ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- Attackers shot or hacked to death at least 41 people in western Ivory Coast, sending hundreds fleeing and raising fears of revenge killings in a region where ethnic tensions run high. Those killed on the outskirts of Duekoue belonged to the Guere tribe. Civil war has ebbed and flowed in the country since 2002.


* PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Nine more people have been killed in violence in Haiti's capital, including eight who died as gunmen set fire to a market to smoke out police taking cover there. French Honorary Consul Paul-Henri Mourral was fatally shot while driving late Tuesday.

-- From News Services