News In Brief

In his first public comment since last weekend's election in Taiwan, Chinese President Jiang Zemin demanded that the winner accept the "one-China principle." His remarks came despite conciliatory language toward the Beijing government by President-elect Chen Shui-bian, who said he'd discuss unification with the mainland, or any issue, as long as both sides treat each other as equals. Meanwhile, more than half the stocks on the Taipei exchange plunged as low as emergency trading rules allow in reaction to Chen's victory. The government's stock stabilization fund said it was prepared to prop up share prices for two weeks.

The first visit to the Holy Land in 36 years by a head of the Roman Catholic Church began in Amman, Jordan. Although the overwhelmingly Islamic nation has a Catholic population of only 3 percent, Pope John Paul II hoped to use his tour, which also is to include Israel and Palestinian territories, to ease historical frictions among Muslims, Jews, and Christians.

A meeting in Geneva Sunday with Syrian leader Hafez Assad was announced by President Clinton as the Damascus government and Israel prepare for another attempt at peace negotiations. A Clinton aide said the meeting was necessary because "you can't move this thing forward without" it.

As many as 600 people may have died in last week's apparent suicide fire at a church compound in Kanungu, Uganda, authorities said. Earlier reports put the number at 470. Journalists at the scene said local residents told them members of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God had sold possessions and bade friends goodbye in the days before the blaze. President Yoweri Museveni warned against "dangerous and opportunistic individuals who parade themselves as religious leaders."

In an early-morning phone call, the president of Senegal conceded defeat in his bid for a new term. Abdou Diouf congratulated opposition leader Abou-laye Wade, who won in a runoff election. Diouf had ruled for 19 years and held a 10-point margin in the first round of voting Feb. 27. But five other challengers threw their support to Wade in the runoff.

The death penalty - or at least life imprisonment - was sought by prosecutors as they wrapped up their case against ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Sharif, who's on trial for attempted murder against Army chief Pervez Musharraf, leader of the coup that overthrew him Oct. 12, deserves the "maximum punishment," a provincial attorney general told the court in Karachi. Sharif is accused of refusing landing permission for a plane bringing Musharraf back to Pakistan, knowing it was low on fuel.

A woman who jokes about her own plain appearance was nominated to lead Germany's once-dominant Christian Democratic Union out of its financial scandal. Angela Merkel would be the first female and first person from the former East Germany to chair the party despite a career in politics of only 10 years.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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