News In Brief

Tensions between russia and NATO over the bombing of Yugoslavia have eased sufficiently for a resumption of formal relations between the two, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said. But in Brussels a meeting of ambassadors who sit with Russia on NATO's Permanent Joint Council was called off when the two sides could not agree on an agenda for discussions on how to patch up their differences following the Kosovo crisis. Russia suspended contacts with NATO in March to protest the bombings and expelled the alliance's senior representatives from Moscow.

In moves aimed at reassuring Palestinians, Israeli officials said last year's Wye Plantation peace deal will be applied "as written" and a controversial policy on Arab residency in Jerusalem will be reviewed. But in the Gaza Strip, Israeli troops fired rubber bullets at stone-throwing Palestinians (above) protesting the expansion of Jewish settlements. Nine youths were hurt. Organizers said the demonstration was meant as a message to new Prime Minister Ehud Barak that settlement "activities" should end. Returning from his first official trip to the US, Barak welcomed moves by Syria to curb radical Palestinian groups opposed to peace with Israel, and an aide suggested talks with the Damascus government could resume within a matter of weeks.

Still more abuse was heaped on Taiwan's President Lee Teng Hui by China, but military sources denied reports that large troop movements were under way in provinces facing the island. State news media called Lee "the scum of the nation" for his July 10 declaration insisting on state-to-state relations between the two governments. And a Foreign Ministry official ordered reporters not to call Lee "president" at daily news briefings. Meanwhile, Lee - in his first public comments since touching off the uproar - said the statehood reference was necessary to prepare Taiwan for talks on reunification with China.

In a blunt warning, the relatively moderate president of Iran was told by 24 senior military commanders to do "your Islamic and nationalistic duty" because their patience with his reformist agenda "is at an end." A letter to Mohamad Khatami - sent during last week's pro-democracy demonstrations but published only Monday - did not specify what the commanders want him to do. But it referred to his reform efforts as "insults" and blamed him for Iran's worst unrest in 20 years. Analysts said the letter suggested he may be losing his power struggle with hard-line Islamic clerics.

Hopes for eventual unity on the divided Mediterranean island of Cyprus are "delusions" that must be set aside in favor of coexistence as "two separate, independent states," Turkey's Prime Minister said. Bulent Ecevit, speaking on the 25th anniversary of the seizure of northern Cyprus by Turkish troops, rejected all notion of reintegration with the island's Greek population under a central government.

Police had to break up clashes between rival tribesmen in Nigeria's largest city, Lagos, and hundreds of people were fleeing new violence in another area as ethnic tensions increased under new President Olusegun Oba-sanjo. Tensions have flared since Obasanjo, a Yoruba, ended 15 years of military rule led by Muslim Hausa generals.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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