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News In Brief

By CompiledSuzanne L. MacLachlan and Shelley Donald Collidge / February 21, 1995

The World

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Mexican riot police surrounded a 16th-century cathedral in the tense southern state of Chiapas, after ranchers and business leaders attacked parishioners there. The attackers accused a Roman Catholic bishop of advising and inciting rebels in the area. Meanwhile, a Zapatista commander urged Indians to come out of hiding and return to their homes. She also asked the Mexican Army to withdraw from former guerrilla territory. (Story, Page 1.)

Serbian President Milosevic rejected the latest international enticement to restart peace talks. After a week of secret talks with Russian Foreign Minister Kozyrev, Milosevic repeated his demand that UN sanctions be lifted before he makes concessions. Mediators have scheduled more talks. Meanwhile, Bosnian government forces and rebel Muslim forces battled over the weekend for control of the northwestern Bihac enclave.

The PLO Executive Committee is set to meet today in Cairo to reexamine the peace process with Israel. PLO leader Arafat said although he remained committed to the peace deal, the two sides had reached an impasse. Arafat charged Israel with obstructing peace by slowing down its military withdrawal from occupied areas. Israeli Prime Minister Rabin responded that Israel would grant autonomy to the West Bank if Arafat helped fight militants. (Story, Page 6.)

Israeli planes blasted suspected guerrilla targets in two raids in southeastern Lebanon yesterday. The air raids came just a few hours after guerrillas attacked a hilltop outpost of an Israeli-backed militia.

Russian and Chechen forces clashed sporadically after a truce in the breakaway republic expired, but they did not resume large-scale fighting. Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said Moscow wants to pursue peace talks. Over the course of the war, Russia has demanded that Chechen fighters disarm as a condition for peace, while Chechen leader Dudayev has said he is "unconditionally" ready for peace as long as Russia withdraws its troops. (Russian Army, Page 1.)

British and Irish leaders were set to agree yesterday on a date and venue for the launch of an Anglo-Irish peace plan that has already been spurned by Northern Ireland's Protestant leaders. The British-ruled province's Protestant Unionist politicians are convinced the plan will weaken London rule and open the way for eventual reunification with the predominantly Catholic Republic.

Negotiations aimed at avoiding a trade war between the US and China continued in Beijing. Both sides reported progress but said important differences remained. Talks are scheduled to continue today and tomorrow. US Energy Secretary O'Leary arrived in Beijing over the weekend on an industrial promotion tour, apparently undaunted by the tense trade atmosphere there.

A Worldwatch Institute researcher said China's growing demand for grain could trigger a global crisis this year. China's growing population and conversion of cropland to nonfarm uses led the country to import a record 6.1 million tons of grain last year, much of it from the US. The US supplies half of the world's grain exports but won't be able to increase production, Worldwatch said.

About 300 Muslim militants demanded the execution of two Christians sentenced to death on a charge of blasphemy against Islam's Prophet Mohammad. A high court is scheduled to hear an appeal today. Prime Minister Bhutto said last week that she would amend Pakistan's blasphemy law.

The US

New Hampshire had its first look at the Republican candidates for president last weekend. The Granite State hosted what in effect was a GOP talent show, with nine contenders on display. All say welfare should be revamped, more power should be shifted to state governments, and federal taxes should be cut, or at least not increased. One area of disagreement is abortion, although Senate Majority Leader Dole, former Secretary of Education Alexander, and Senator Gramm all say they oppose abortion. Two polls gave Dole the early lead for the party's presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Gramm, who plans to announce his presidential bid Friday, denied dodging the draft for the Vietnam War. (Story, Page 1.)

The NAACP elected Myrlie Evers-Williams as its new chairwoman. Evers-Williams is the widow of NAACP field organizer Medgar Evers. She said must find a replacement for the ousted executive director, Benjamin Chavis, and try to erase the organization's estimated $3 million debt. The NAACP must also rejoin the political fray. Evers-Williams said she intends to take on the "attitudes and positions" in the new Republican Congress that could harm civil-rights advancements.