News In Brief

The overdue pullout of Israeli troops from 6.1 percent more of the West Bank could take place as soon as Sunday, a senior Palestinian official said. Saeb Erekat said a redrawn map of the areas to be surrendered includes villages on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which both sides claim as their capital, as demanded by Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat. The redrawn map was approved 5-3 with one abstention by security advisers in Prime Minister Ehud Barak's Cabinet. The full Cabinet is expected to vote on the matter Sunday. The handover was to have been completed Jan. 20. Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are due to resume discussions on a final peace deal next week in Washington.

In a blunt new warning, Chinese Premier Zhu Ronji told the voters of Taiwan they'd "regret it very much" if they chose a leading pro-independence candidate in Saturday's presidential election. "Taiwan will never be allowed to be independent," Zhu angrily told a news conference in Beijing, ridiculing US assertions that China's military is still years from having the capability to land a conquering force on the island nation.

In a late campaign rally in Taiwan, Chen Shui-bian, the candidate Zhu referred to without mentioning by name, said China was playing the "terror card." His Democratic Progressive Party urged the Beijing government to leave the door open to improved relations after Saturday's vote. Meanwhile, outgoing President Lee Teng Hui denied that he's secretly urging his supporters to back Chen over the ruling Nationalist Party candidate, Vice president Lien Chan. Opinion polls are banned within 10 days of an election, but analysts say there are many signs Chen's campaign is gathering late momentum.

Anger over the ethnic division of Kosovska Mitrovica boiled over into new violence, injuring NATO peacekeepers, at least 15 Serb civilians, and a journalist. The trouble began when NATO troops forced Serb guards from a bridge dividing their neighborhood from an ethnic Albanian section of the Kosovo city. Hundreds of other Serbs, rallying to the aid of the guards, were dispersed with tear gas and stun grenades. The guards appoint themselves to keep Albanians from using the bridge. Last week, more than 40 people were hurt in a nearby clash.

Acts of violence blamed on paramilitary splinter groups were on the rise in Northern Ireland as leading politicans prepared to leave for the US and a meeting with President Clinton. Reports said a victim was in a Belfast hospital after being kidnapped and shot in both legs - the sixth such non-fatal "punishment" in a week. Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams said the peace process in the province was "in deep crisis" because it had "no center of gravity" and predicted the meeting with Clinton would produce no breakthrough.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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