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Libya displays suspects in jet bombing

Two men accused by the United States and Britain in the bombing of a Pan Am jetliner that killed 270 people were displayed Tuesday by Libya to prove to the world that the suspects were not dead or missing.

Abdel Baset Ali Mohamed Megrahi and Amin Khalifa Fhimah appeared in a meeting room at the Libyan supreme court before dozens of Western journalists invited for the occasion.

"We are not guilty," Megrahi said.

The appearance, which followed what Judge Ahmed Zawi described as a routine investigation session, seemed designed to put to rest reports that Libya had hidden or executed the men _ as some American intelligence sources speculated last week _ to forestall Western attempts to have them tried abroad for the bombing of the Pan Am jetliner, which exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.

Zawi told reporters that extraditing the suspects to Britain or the United States was "out of the question strictly from the point of view of Libyan law."

The U.N. Security Council has told Libya to let Megrahi and Fhimah stand trial abroad. The United States, Britain and France will press for U.N. sanctions if Tripoli does not comply by the end of the month.

Hezbollah leader buried: Tens of thousands of pro-Iranian militants on Tuesday buried the guerrilla leader killed by Israel. And they vowed to fight on as their ruling council elected another hard-liner to replace him.

Israel hit back after a night of guerrilla rocket and artillery bombardment with a barrage of shells and a helicopter raid, killing a 5-year-old child and wounding six other people.

Israel also beefed up forces in Lebanon, and its client militia in the south warned villagers to flee to escape "massive retaliation" for guerrilla raids avenging Sunday's killing of Sheik Abbas Musawi, chief of Hezbollah.

Hezbollah's ruling council unanimously elected Sheik Hassan Nasrallah as its new secretary-general, officials said. Nasrallah, 38, is a protege of Musawi and has very close ties to Iran.

"Israel is digging its own grave," Nasrallah told mourners when Musawi's body arrived in east Lebanon on Monday.

Talks still on: Palestinian negotiators will attend resumed Arab-Israeli peace talks in Washington next week, a Palestine Liberation Organization official said Tuesday.

Yasser Abed Rabbou, a member of the PLO executive committee, said after a PLO delegation had talks with Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk Shara that Palestinians were joining other Arab parties in announcing their participation in the next round of talks Monday.

Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel have said they would send teams to Washington.

Palestinian leaders earlier had threatened to boycott the talks to protest Israel's arrest of two members of their negotiating team: Mohammed Hourani, a psychology professor detained Jan. 9, and Jamal Shobaki, a geography professor held since Sunday.

Palestinians called a news conference in East Jerusalem to dispute the arrests. Israeli officials said the two were accused of organizing terrorist acts.

Labor candidate promises self-rule: Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, vying to lead the opposition Labor Party in national elections, promised on Tuesday to implement Palestinian self-rule in occupied lands within nine months of taking office.

Rabin, the 69-year-old leader of Labor's rightists, is challenging the leadership of the more dovish Shimon Peres, 68, also a former premier, in a party fight today. Pollsters predict a close race.

Rabin said he was Labor's best hope for defeating Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir's Likud Party in June 23 elections.

Shamir, 76, seems assured of victory at Likud's leadership convention Thursday. His challengers are Housing Minister Ariel Sharon and Foreign Minister David Levy.

_ Information from Reuters and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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