News In Brief

His latest mission to the Middle East a failure, US envoy Dennis Ross was to return to Washington for consultations with President Clinton and Secretary of State Albright. Ross acknowledged he was unable to persuade Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to end their month-long deadlock over returning more West Bank territory. The latter's chief negotiator rejected a new Israeli proposal for resuming talks as "a waste of time."

The arrival of dozens of UN police reinforcements in Kosovo's most ethnically mixed city was not expected to ease tensions until they learned their way around. But Kosovska Mitrovica was reported relatively calm despite the apparently deliberate placing of an antitank mine in a road in the city's Serb section. The device destroyed a bus that normally carries workers and schoolchildren. But it was occupied only by the driver and a ticket-taker, and neither was hurt.

The fallout from the financial scandal engulfing Germany's Christian Democratic Union spread, as voters handed it a defeat in the first state election since news of the wrongdoing broke in December. The CDU lost to the Social Democrats for control of Schleswig-Holstein's legislature. But the margin - 43 percent to 35 percent - was smaller than expected despite a relatively high turnout. It also propelled state CDU leader Volker Ruehe into the ranks of contenders for national chairman when the party chooses its new chief in April.

The entire legal team representing ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif quit after the court where he's on trial for attempted murder refused to allow him to testify in public. Sharif was ordered to submit his testimony in writing out of concern that he might jeopardize national security if he spoke openly. His lawyers were to begin the defense phase of the trial tomorrow.

No threats had been reported against the chief of police in Tijuana, authorities said, after he became the latest prominent victim of violence in the Mexican city that is home to the world's busiest border crossing. But Alfredo de la Torre's agency had been cracking down on small-time narcotics peddlers and smugglers of immigrants into California. He was ambushed by unknown gunmen as he returned home alone from church services. Dozens of other police, judges, and even Mexico's leading presidential candidate have been murdered in Tijuana in recent years.

Setting a Dec. 31 deadline for achieving a formal reconciliation between Australia's white and Aboriginal populations was "a mistake," Prime Minister John Howard said. He said he was abandoning a plan aimed at full reconciliation in time for the 100th anniversary of nationhood because "the process will take a long time ... a period of years." Howard's refusal to issue an official apology over past injustices to Aborigines - he has expressed only personal regrets - is seen as the key factor blocking reconciliation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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