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A "gentlemen's" cease-fire with separatist guerrillas in Indonesia's Aceh Province was announced by military officials to allow tsunami- relief efforts to go forward. But a rebel spokes-man was wary of the truce, contending that the government has used the disaster as an excuse to send thousands of troops to the the volatile region. Aceh was hardest hit by the Dec. 26 disaster and has become the focus of efforts to help. So great have been the financial commitments from around the world that the UN said it will use an outside accounting firm to track the funds and to investigate allegations of fraud.

In the highest-level contact between the two sides in almost four years, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon congratulated the new Palestinian Authority president on his victory. He and Mahmoud Abbas, however, set no date for a face-to-face meeting, although they agreed to talk again "soon." Calls by Abbas for calm so he could pursue peace with Israel, however, were ignored by Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip. They resumed rocket attacks against Jewish settlements, although no injuries were reported.

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New troops and weapons for the Iraqi Army were promised by interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi in a $2.2 billion effort to enhance internal security on a day in which at least 13 more people died in terrorist attacks. Allawi said "some pockets" of Iraq won't be able to participate in the Jan. 30 national election because they're too unsafe, but his government planned to meet next week with political parties favoring a boycott of the vote in hopes of persuading them to participate after all.

Piling new pressure on the Bolivian government, strikers shut down the nation's largest city in a spreading protest against the price of gasoline and the favorable terms granted to the French operator of the unpopular regional water utility. The protests, which began Monday, now affect Santa Cruz and neighboring El Alto, 470 miles south of La Paz, the capital. President Carlos Mesa said negotiations "with all sectors" are in progress. But his aides also maintain that the 23 percent hike in fuel prices must stand.


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