20 OCTOBER 2001, Page 6

M r Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, flew to Oman and

Egypt in an attempt to strengthen support for the American-led coalition against terrorists, notably Mr Osama bin Laden. Saudi Arabia refused to receive Mr Blair. He then received President Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority at Downing Street and called for 'a viable Palestinian state as part of a negotiated and agreed settlement'. Mr Blair also called broadcasters to Downing Street to warn them of the dangers, such as coded messages for terrorists, in screening videos made by the alQa'eda terrorist network sponsored by Mr bin Laden. One video called on American and British infidels to leave Saudi Arabia, and counselled Muslims against travelling by aeroplane or living in towers. Mr David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, announced legislation to provide for the detention of suspected terrorists, possibly for years, and for the prosecution of incitement to religious hatred. Canterbury Cathedral was closed on Sunday after a man was seen sprinkling powder in the crypt; it turned out not to contain anthrax spores. Shareholders in Railtrack, of which the government had suddenly taken control, continued their campaign to receive compensation; the government admitted that Railtrack Group, the parent company, did own the concession to run the new Channel Tunnel link. Sir V.S. Naipaul won the Nobel

Prize for Literature. Lord Hailsham, the Tory politician and former lord chancellor, died, aged 94. Government unemployment figures fell by 4,900 to 942,100; but the International Labour Organisation figures rose by 53,000 to 1,507,000. Siemens, the German manufacturers, announced the loss of 5,000 jobs in its information section, half of which may be lost in Britain. British Telecom and America's AT&T agreed to close their joint loss-making venture called Concert, with the loss of 1,000 jobs in Britain. The Prince of Wales entertained Bala bin Laden, one of the many brothers of Osama bin Laden, at a dinner for 60 at Highgrove to support the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies; 'What's your brother doing these days?' the Prince inquired. A puma was blamed for eating eight cats that have disappeared from the village of Crondall on the border of Surrey and Hampshire.

THE United States continued to bomb Afghanistan. Some bombs and missiles killed civilians by mistake; Taleban officials showed Western journalists the village of Karam, 40 miles from Jalalabad. where 200 were said to have died. Mr George Bush, the American President, conceded a role for the United Nations when the bombing stopped, saying: 'It would be a useful function for the United Nations to take over the so-called nationbuilding.' There was a good deal of anxiety in the United States when an item from Malaysia came through the post in Nevada infected with anthrax, and a number of people in New York came down with the disease; this followed the death of a man from anthrax at Boca Raton in Florida a week before. Mr Kati Annan and the United Nations received the Nobel Prize for Peace. Mr Rudolph Giuliani, the mayor of New York, turned down a donation worth 17 million for families of those killed in the destruction of the World Trade Center from a Saudi prince after the prince said America should adopt 'a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause'. Mr Giuliani received an honorary British knighthood, which the Duke of York conferred on him on behalf of the Queen when he visited Manhattan. A gunman from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine shot dead Rehavarn Zeevi, the Israeli tourism minister, in East Jerusalem. In Kano, in northern Nigeria, rioting between Muslims and Christians left dozens dead. Striking Belgian railway workers closed the Channel rail link from Brussels to London for a day. An Italian cat burglar who stole £50,000 of jewellery belonging to Prince Charles from St James's Palace will not be prosecuted because his case has not been brought before an Italian court within the statutory three years.