News In Brief

Political tensions were rising in Peru as delayed election returns showed incumbent President Alberto Fujimori nearing the percentage of Sunday's vote necessary to win a new term without worrying about a risky runoff. Officials said the controversial Fujimori had 49.6 percent of the vote to 40.6 for populist challenger Alejandro Toledo. Fifty percent, plus one vote, are needed for victory. Toledo alleged the election was fixed and refused to recognize its outcome. Fujimori has vigorously defended the voting as fair except for "a few little problems which occur in any election."

Quick approval of the START II nuclear arms treaty by Russian lawmakers is likely once it comes to a vote Friday, reports from Moscow said. The lower house of parliament committed itself to take up the long-delayed issue at the urging of President-elect Vladimir Putin, who argued that reducing its nuclear arsenal does not mean making Russia weaker. But passage is expected to be accompanied by a demand that the US abandon plans for a national missile defense system. The pact was ratified by the US Congress in 1996. It commits both sides to cut their nuclear warheads from about 6,000 to no more than 3,500 by 2007.

The slow pace of human-rights reform in Turkey "disappoints" the European Union, and more progress is necessary before membership can be granted, the latter said. The EU had kept Turkey at arm's length until December, when - in a climate of warmer relations with rival Greece - it accepted the Ankara government as a candidate for admission. But EU leaders told Turkey's foreign minister that reforms still are necessary in the areas of an independent court system, abolishing capital punishment, and greater rights for the Kurdish minority.

International Jewish groups welcomed a judge's finding in London that noted British historian David Irving is a racist and anti-Semitic "Holocaust denier." The blistering language accompanied a ruling that Irving hadn't proved his libel case against Prof. Deborah Lipstadt of Emory University in Atlanta and her publisher, Penguin Books, for accusing him of distorting the truth of what happened to Jews under the World War II Nazi regime.

Thousands of protesting peasants headed home in Bolivia after a week of violence over a new water project that would have hiked user rates by up to 35 percent. The disruptions, which shut down Cochabamba, the third-largest city, ended when President Hugo Banzer's government agreed to scrap the $200 million project and reconsider a bill before parliament that would have charged many Bolivians for water they now get for free. Six people died in the violence, which quickly spread nationwide; at least 40 others were hurt.

Telephone links between the US and Cuba, cut off for more than a year over a payment controversy, will be restored, the Havana government said. The matter arose when a Miami court said it was considering whether money owed by five US long-distance carriers to the state phone company in Havana should go instead to relatives of Cuban-Americans whose unarmed planes were shot down over international waters by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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