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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was en route to Washington for tomorrow's meeting with President Bush, armed with a 100-page report that alleges Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat personally plotted and financed terrorist attacks against the Jewish state. The report includes photocopies of documents purportedly bearing Arafat's signature on payment orders for some of the most-wanted Palestinian militants, using funds taken from European Union aid donations. Meanwhile, Egypt and Syria rejected participation in a US-sponsored Middle East peace conference this summer. (Related stories, page 6.)

Voter turnout for the much-anticipated presidential runoff election in France was at just under 70 percent as the Monitor went to press – a sign, political observers said, that incumbent Jacques Chirac would win in a landslide. Turnout at the same point in the day for the first round of voting April 21 was 58 percent. Chirac's challenger, ultranationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, made no prediction of victory but said "If I get less than 30 percent of the vote, it would be a huge disappointment." Below, voters wait their turn at Erce, in western France.

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US requests that the murderers of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl be extradited for trial and punishment have been denied, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf said. He said Islamic militant Ahmed Omar Saeed, currently on trial for the crime in a Karachi court, "has done a terrible act in Pakistan [and] must be punished in Pakistan [to show that] we will be moving strongly against terrorists." On Saturday, Saeed's lawyers filed a challenge to the transfer of his trial to Hyderabad as a safety precaution.

A leading political dissident was freed from prison in Cuba two months early, in what analysts said may have been a gesture to ex-US President Jimmy Carter, who's to visit the communist-ruled island nation next weekend. The release of Vladimiro Roca, who was serving a five-year sentence for urging political reforms, could not have been arranged without the OK of Fidel Castro, reports said.

At least 148 people died and dozens of others were seriously hurt when a passenger jet on a domestic flight crashed at Kano, Nigeria, Saturday afternoon. Reports said about half the victims were residents of a neighborhood hit by the plane when it lost power on takeoff.

Hugo Banzer, who died Sunday at his home in Bolivia, twice led his country – first as a military dictator from 1971-78 and later as its democratically elected president. Last August, with a year left in his term, he turned over power to Vice President Jorge Quiroga to undergo intensive treatment for cancer.


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