BEIJING - The government said it was studying the possibility of sending probes to the moon and Mars, saying it could contribute to international efforts to explore deep space.


BAGHDAD - Iraqis who want to perform the Moslem pilgrimage in Mecca next month will have to travel to Saudi Arabia by bus after efforts to let them be flown there collapsed, the official Iraqi News Agency said.

West Bank

HEBRON - Israeli rights activists including a group of rabbis joined Palestinians to help rebuild a house that had been demolished twice by the Israeli army.


ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif invited the new Indian government to resume dialogue and shed "the old mind set of confrontation and tension" between the two arch-foes.


HANOI - Thousands of people gathered amid tight security as Vietnam's latest major graft trial, involving millions of dollars in losses at a flagship state firm, got under way in a northern textile town.

South Africa

VRYBURG - Black youths angry over alleged racism in a predominantly white school burned tires and stoned a police vehicle in scenes reminiscent of apartheid-era clashes.


TUNIS - Authorities suspended publication of Al-Zahf al-Akhdar newspaper for its articles attacking Arab and friendly states, the official Libyan news agency JANA reported.


BEIRUT - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for Israelis and Palestinians to work with Washington, compromise and revive the deadlocked Middle East peace talks.


ZURICH - Swiss banks are unlikely to agree to a quick global settlement of Holocaust victims' claims despite the prospect of U.S. boycotts as soon as next month, Swiss sources familiar with the discussions said.


PARIS - The United Nations has approved the sale of 100,000 tons of wheat and 39,400 tons of sugar from France to Iraq under a U.N. oil-for-food pact, a French government source said.


MEXICO CITY - An Israeli rabbi, apparently on a fund-raising visit, was stabbed 18 times and killed in the Mexican capital, officials said. The killers were unknown.


MANILA - The body of a man who apparently hanged himself with shoe laces was found dangling from a tree outside the U.S. Embassy here.


MOSCOW - The government announced plans for a long-awaited sale of the huge state oil company Rosneft, the government's last major holding in the oil industry.


LONDON - British politician and best-selling author Jeffrey Archer, campaigning to become London's first elected mayor, said he liked the job so much that if he got it he would do it for free.


BRASILIA - The government has abandoned plans to develop a controversial waterway project because it would have damaged the Pantanal wetlands, one the world's richest ecological areas, an official said.