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Foreign Digest


Palestinian leader Abbas appears at election rally

JERICHO, West Bank -- Interim Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, the front-runner in upcoming presidential elections, received a loud ovation from thousands of supporters at his first public rally yesterday, generating some excitement for the low-key politician seeking to replace the late Yasser Arafat.

The rally came as Palestinian election officials announced anti-fraud safeguards for the Jan. 9 vote, saying voters will be marked with indelible ink and ballot boxes will be sealed.

Also yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip suffered a setback when a parliamentary committee failed to approve a set of guidelines governing the evacuation. While the vote isn't expected to disrupt the withdrawal, which is to begin in July, officials said it would complicate preparations.

@SUBHEDJapan to expand scope of tsunami warning system

TOKYO -- Japan's Meteorological Agency will expand the geographical scope of its observation and provide tsunami forecasts to other Asian nations starting in March, agency officials said yesterday.

The agency's system will be able to issue tsunami warnings that include the height of a tsunami and its arrival time, beginning about 20 minutes after a strong earthquake. The accuracy of the agency's warnings is regarded as unrivaled.

Under the expanded system, the agency will devise about 200 patterns of possible quakes in the northwestern Pacific Ocean and calculate tsunamis in each case. The agency aims to issue a tsunami forecast 10 to 20 minutes after a strong quake occurs.

From wire reports

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