News In Brief

In a hint of what his attitude toward China may be in tomorrow's inaugural speech, the president-elect of Taiwan said the rival mainland "may be big, but it must be reasonable." By comparison, Chen Shui-bian told reporters, "Taiwan may be small, but we possess the truth," because the island "is free, a democracy, and respects human rights." Meanwhile, in another in a long series of broadsides against the incoming administration, China's Liberation Army Daily newspaper published huge front-page photos of air and field exercises under the headline "Taiwan Independence Means War."

The peace process in Northern Ireland appeared dangerously close to sliding back into crisis as the province's main Protestant movement called off tomorrow's crucial vote on resuming a power-sharing coalition government with Catholics. As the Monitor went to press, Ulster Unionist Party leader - and Northern Ireland First Minister - David Trimble was uncertain he could muster enough votes to pass a motion recommending a return to the fledgling administration, reports said. Britain, which suspended the government in February, had hoped to transfer home-rule powers back on Monday. There was no immediate word on reaction to the UUP move by Catholic political leaders.

The size of the UN peacekeeping mission in Sierra Leone stood to grow to as many as 17,000 troops under a proposal to be voted on by the Security Council. The vote was to come on the heels of this week's chaotic developments in the African nation. The UN mission currently is limited to 11,100. But Jordan, India, and Bangla-desh have pledged to send reinforcements, Russia said it wanted to as well, and neighboring African countries were proposing to return the ECOMOG intervention force that had been deployed there earlier.

Negotiators shook hands on a final agreement for the 15 points that will determine how next month's historic summit between the leaders of the two Koreas proceeds. At the Panmunjom truce village, the negotiators decided on matters ranging from news coverage of the talks to the options for travel to the North's capital by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung. Leaders of the two Koreas have not faced each other since 1945.

A grenade thrown by an unidentified attacker exploded outside the offices of Haiti's elections commission, wounding seven people, two of them seriously. The blast in Port-au-Prince, the capital, deepened anxiety over Sunday's first round of local and national elections. Since March, 15 Haitians have died in violence related to the thrice-postponed voting. There have been more than 70 such incidents to date, but police have yet to make a single arrest.

Saying he didn't want to put the Dominican Republic on a "tortuous road" to a runoff election for president next month, ruling party candidate Danilo Medina withdrew in favor of his populist rival, Hipolito Mejia. The third candidate, ex-President Joaquin Balaguer, also withdrew - although all-but-complete returns from Tuesday's voting left Mejia 0.14 percent shy of the absolute majority needed for first-round victory.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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