News In Brief

The drumbeat of denunciations by China against Taiwan's President Lee Teng Hui took a new turn as newspapers ran photos of military units practicing amphibious landings - a move that the latter called a scare tactic. Taiwan's Defense Ministry said no signs of unusual activity by Chinese troops had been spotted since Lee said July 9 that relations between the two should be conducted on a "state to state" basis.

More than $1 billion in special US aid to help pay for Israel's pullback from the West Bank will be released now that Ehud Barak holds the reins of government, reports said. The funds were promised under terms of last fall's Wye Plantation peace deal with the Palestinians. But the aid was frozen when Barak's predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, suspended the pullback after Stage 1 of the three-stage process.

Yugoslavia's Army chief left little doubt that his troops still backed President Milosevic. Gen. Dragoljub Ojdanic said opposition leaders who demand Milosevic's ouster risked "catastrophe" and won't be support-ed by "our people." Meanwhile, thousands of Serb reservists ended protests demanding back wages for their service in Kosovo after a senior general promised payment in three installments.

Failure to agree on a panel of international observers caused the indefinite postponement of peace talks between the Colombian government and leftist rebels. Within hours, five soldiers and one rebel died in new skirmishing in a suburb of the capital, Bogot. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, however, said they remained "irrevocably committed" to a negotiated settlement, and the two sides did agree to an informal meeting July 30 on the observer issue.

Special Army patrols were to search at dawn for proof that all infiltrators had left the Indian side of the Line of Control with Pakistan in Kashmir. Senior officials in New Delhi said "a post mortem" would be conducted to determine why the militants, whom they claim were mixed with Pakistani troops, succeeded in infiltrating and holding Indian territory for two months. And they said they'd demand a "sequence of steps" - among them endorsement of the "inviolability" of the Line of Control - by Pakistan before talks on ending decades of hostility could resume.

A heavy contingent of police and armored cars guarded the offices of the British High Commission in Pretoria, South Africa, as thousands of angry miners outside demanded a halt to the sale of gold reserves. A similar protest (above) took place outside the Swiss Embassy. The mining industry is hard-hit by Britain's selloff of 25 tons of reserves, which sent the price of gold to a record-low $253 an ounce. Switzerland plans a selloff of 1,300 tons next year. South African mines plan 11,000 layoffs, and another 100,000 mining or mining-related jobs are threatened if the price doesn't rebound.

Almost 48,000 nurses agreed to end their three-week illegal strike against the Quebec health system until a vote can be held Wednesday on their proposed new contract. It calls for a study to be completed by Nov. 15 on whether the nurses' demand for a 6 percent wage increase over two years, plus a one-time bonus, is deserved.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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