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Negotiators plunge on to reduce global warming gases

With the United States on the sidelines, negotiators from more than 160 countries including Great Britian, Japan and Russia worked early into this morning to try to conclude a groundbreaking climate control treaty setting mandatory targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

If completed and enacted, the treaty, the Kyoto Protocol, would set the first firm restrictions on the amount of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases released by industrialized countries.

European environmental leaders who were outraged when President Bush disavowed the Kyoto global warming treaty in March vowed to forge ahead without the United States and work out final details in Morocco this week.

The treaty, if approved, would require about 40 industrialized countries to reduce worldwide emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping greenhouse gases by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

The United States, the world's biggest emitter of greenhouse gases, would be exempt. Friday, the Department of Energy reported that heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions increased by 3.1 percent in the United States last year _ the biggest increase since the mid-1990s. Carbon dioxide emissions, the chief cause of global warming, were nearly 14 percent higher than in 1990, according the the department's Energy Information Administration.

The Bush administration opposes the treaty, saying it would harm the U.S. economy while exempting developing countries, including India and China, from mandatory emission targets. Instead, the White House has advocated spending more for scientific research, incentives for developing new technology to reduce emissions and other voluntary or market-based incentives.

Most climate scientists say that a buildup of greenhouse gases in recent decades has contributed to a worldwide warming trend that could lead to droughts, floods and agricultural disruption, particularly in developing countries.

Powell calls for

Palestinian state

UNITED NATIONS _ Secretary of State Colin Powell affirmed his support Friday for establishing a Palestinian state and said he was trying to arrange a meeting with Yasser Arafat to give peacemaking "a jump-start."

Powell said Israel should give up land for peace, as provided in U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted after the 1967 and 1973 Mideast wars.

A decline in violence could pay off in a reinforced cease-fire between Israel and the Palestinians and a start on peacemaking gestures, Powell said in a series of television interviews.

Powell said Israel should re-open its borders to Palestinian workers _ they were closed to try to screen out suicide bombers _ and he urged Arafat to bring violence "down to zero."

Powell and Arafat are attending the special session of the U.N. General Assembly.

UN WANT END TO CONGO FIGHT: The Security Council unanimously approved a resolution Friday night opening a new phase in the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Congo and demanding an end to hostilities.

The council backed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's recommendation to start implementing the next phase in the peace process _ the withdrawal of all foreign forces in Congo and the disarmament, demobilization and departure of armed groups.

"The peace process in the Congo may be at a turning point," Annan told an open meeting of the council with parties to the 1999 Congo cease-fire accord, which is still being violated. "At stake is the reunification of the country after years of war."

The civil war broke out in August 1998 when Rwanda and Uganda backed Congolese rebels trying to oust then-President Laurent Kabila. Troops from Zimbabwe, Namibia and Angola now back the government, and Burundi joined the fray to fight Burundian rebels based in eastern Congo.

In other news

IN KOREA: South Korea urged North Korea on Friday to revive stalled exchanges, including programs to help reunite families separated by the Korean War a half century ago.

South Korean Unification Minister Hong Soon-young, heading a five-member delegation, called for the measures during the sixth round of inter-Korean Cabinet-level talks at the North's Diamond Mountain resort, according to pool reports by journalists who traveled with the delegation from Seoul.

Hong also proposed resuming suspended economic and tourism talks.

The two Koreas originally had agreed to temporarily reunite 100 separated family members each in mid-October for three days. But the North abruptly canceled it, citing a "warlike situation" in South Korea.

North Korea argued that its delegations could not travel safely in South Korea where virtually all security forces were put on alert following the Sept. 11 attacks.

IN THE PHILIPPINES: Workers prepared mass graves as search crews retrieved bodies from beneath boulders and disintegrated homes Friday on a Philippine resort island swamped by Tropical Storm Lingling.

Officials said they had confirmed 135 deaths, and another 300 people were still missing.

Most of the deaths have been reported in Mahinog on the resort island of Camuigin.

_ Information from the Associated Press, New York Times and Washington Post was used in this report.

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