- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 1, 2001

Blast, fire kills 44 in Tokyo club
TOKYO — An explosion and fire tore through a gambling parlor in a bustling Tokyo nightclub district early Saturday, killing at least 44 persons in one of Japan's deadliest blazes in years, officials said.
Some people jumped from third-story windows to escape the fire. Tokyo Fire Department spokesman Takashi Yamagishi said three persons were hospitalized.
Firefighters scrambled up ladders to reach the third and fourth floors of the building in the Kabukicho entertainment district, which were gutted by the blaze.
Police at first said that 47 persons were hospitalized with injuries, but Mr. Yamagishi later said 44 were killed and three who were injured remained hospitalized. Their conditions were unknown.
Kabukicho is one of Tokyo's busiest nightclubs.

Israel, Palestinians battle, seek talks
JERUSALEM — Israelis and Palestinians were trying to lay the groundwork yesterday for a meeting between Foreign Minister Shimon Peres and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in a bid to end nearly a year of bloodshed.
But witnesses said Israeli troops and tanks stormed into Palestinian sectors of divided Hebron in the West Bank late in the evening and took up two positions after a day of gunbattles that left five Palestinians wounded.
An Israeli army spokesman denied that Israeli troops had made another incursion into Palestinian Hebron, a flash-point city that has seen some of the worst violence of the 11-month Palestinian uprising.
The witnesses said Israeli forces went as deep as 200 yards into Palestinian neighborhoods, less than two days after Israel took control of a Palestinian town on the outskirts of Jerusalem for around 48 hours.

Protest-weary Rome wants summit shift
ROME — Italy said yesterday it wanted a U.N. food summit scheduled for November in Rome to be moved and said Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi would discuss options with the United Nations next week.
The Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization is to host the summit Nov. 5-9 but Italy is worried it may attract protests similar to those surrounding the Group of Eight summit in Genoa last month, where one demonstrator died.
In a statement released after its first post-summer Cabinet meeting, the government said Mr. Berlusconi would meet FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf Sept. 3 "to find a solution which suits everyone."

Colombia peace talks backed by U.S.
BOGOTA, Colombia — With Colombia's peace talks on the ropes, an embattled President Andres Pastrana got help from an important ally yesterday when a top U.S. official backed the talks and heralded more emphasis on social aid in the Plan Colombia anti-drug campaign.
U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman stressed that Mr. Pastrana's insistence on negotiating with Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebels was the only way to end a 37-year-old war that has claimed 40,000 lives in the past decade.
"I did not make any recommendations to President Pastrana. What I did was to agree with President Pastrana that there was a need to restart the peace process," he said.

Chechen rebel chief predicts peace pact
MOSCOW — Chechnya's defiant rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov warned yesterday that Russia would soon be forced to sue for peace just as it did in the first bloody North Caucasus war that ended exactly five years ago.
"As was the case with the first war, the current war will end with the signing of a peace treaty," Mr. Maskhadov said in an extended interview published in Moscow's Kommersant business daily.
"All wars end in peace," he added.
A top Kremlin spokesman however angrily denounced the interview, arguing in favor of an amendment to Russian law that would ban newspapers from publishing statements made by rebel leaders

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