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KOREA: North Korea may accept a U.S. proposal for high-level political talks to resolve the dispute over its suspect nuclear program. "We could resume a dialogue with the United States, which we consider important. But there are certain conditions for that," South Korea's national news agency, Yonhap, quoted a North Korean official as saying. The unidentified North Korean official, based in the United States, refused to elaborate on the conditions, Yonhap said. Washington has proposed shifting to higher-level political talks in Geneva early next month. The two countries worked out a nuclear deal the last time they held such talks.DISQUALIFIED: A government election panel Monday disqualified the widow of former Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos from running for the House of Representatives. The Commission on Election ruled 2-1 that Imelda Marcos was ineligible to run in the May 8 election because she had not resided long enough in the congressional district she seeks to re-pre-sent.

TESTS: Winnie Mandela, estranged wife of President Nelson Mandela, was released from the hospital Monday after nearly a week of tests and treatment. She appeared to be in good condition and will be monitored by her physicians, said Chantal Coetzer, spokeswoman for Linksfield Park Clinic. Winnie Mandela was hospitalized April 18 after doctors found she suffered from an electrolyte imbalance that was affecting her kidneys, blood pressure and blood sugar.

AMBUSH: Guerrillas ambushed an Israeli patrol in south Lebanon with a roadside bomb Monday, triggering a retaliatory bombardment, security sources said. Israeli helicopter gunships strafed suspected guerrilla hideouts in Iqlim al-Tuffah while fighter-bombers staged mock air raids, the sources said on condition of anonymity. A statement released by the Shiite Muslim Hezbollah claimed 20 Israelis and allied militiamen of the South Lebanon Army were killed or wounded in the 7:30 a.m. bombing.

TRAVEL: The sky-high yen and the long "Golden Week" holiday period this year are teaming up to produce a record-high number of Japanese travelers heading for foreign destinations, tourism-related officials said Monday. Over the upcoming 11-day holiday stretch that starts this week, an estimated 474,000 Japanese travelers will head abroad, a 2.1 percent increase over the previous year.

Across the nation

CONTEST: A married prostitute who created a national stir by entering the Mrs. Nevada International contest didn't win a crown, but she's getting a chance to earn some royalties. Winchester, a 53-year-old grandmother who represented Virginia City, has been flooded with book offers and calls from tabloid TV shows. She said she's even considering an offer from Playboy to pose but probably will decline out of respect for her family. "My work is done on a one-on-one basis in a house," she said. "Nude pictorials are forever and national."

SLAYINGS: Two children watched as five family members were gunned down execution-style in El Monte, Calif., and were spared only because the killers ran out of bullets, authorities said. Police were looking for three young men with shaved heads who fled in a car after the shooting Saturday night in this Los Angeles suburb. A neighbor said she called police after a 6-year-old boy covered in blood appeared on her doorstep. A 2-year-old girl also survived the attack. Police said they didn't have a motive, but found drug paraphernalia in the victims' home. Deputy sheriff Rich Erickson said investigators believe the killers ran out of bullets before reaching the two wit-nesses.

CUBANS: Seventy-nine Cuban refugees were picked up in international waters over the weekend and transported to the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Coast Guard said. Thirty-four refugees were spotted aboard a 15-foot wooden raft Saturday in international waters just north of Cay Sal Bank, a cluster of islands 85 miles southeast of Key West, said Petty Officer David French. The rest were spotted Sunday on one of the islands of Cay Sal Bank, French said.

ROBBERY: Two armed bandits shoved their way into a New York armored car office Monday, tying up workers and escaping with an estimated $1 million, police said. The robbers burst into a Trans-Am Security office in the borough of Queens about 1:30 a.m., said police spokesman Arek Tarih. Five workers, all women, were tied for nearly an hour before they freed themselves and tripped an alarm. No one was hurt, Tarih said.

DECATHLON: John Marshall High School in Los Angeles took first-place honors in the 14th annual U.S. Academic Decathlon. Coming in second was Chicago's Whitney Young High School, which was named to represent Illinois when Chicago's Steinmetz High School was stripped of the state title after its coach and members were found to have cheat-ed.

In other news

THE SMOKE of a fire burning a pile of more than a million tires shut down a school Monday in Charlotte, N.Y., and restricted travel on some roads. . . . THE ISRAELI army lifted a 10-day closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip Monday, and Palestinian laborers lined up for searches at roadblocks to return to jobs in Israel. . . . MORE THAN 1 million people are without drinking water in China's eastern Anhui Province as a three week drought has dried up most of the region's reservoirs.