News In Brief

Only merchants selling black mourning cloth appeared to be doing business in Syria's capital as the nation prepared for its largest gathering in modern times - today's funeral for President Hafez al-Assad. Meanwhile, Assad's son and designated successor, Bashar, was named commander in chief of the military and accepted pledges of loyalty from Syria's defense minister and senior armed forces officials.

Doctored newspaper photos in Seoul were showing the leaders of the two Koreas shaking hands on the eve of their historic summit - although they'd yet to meet. And, paraphrasing US astronaut Neil Armstrong's 1969 words on stepping onto the moon, one daily said: "One small step for reconciliation; one giant leap for reunification." In an address to the nation this morning, South Korean President Kim Dae Jung is expected to pledge a full effort in his meetings with the North's Kim Jong Il to seek ways for all people on the divided peninsula "to live peacefully and happily."

The worst appeared to be over in the Congo port of Kisangani after a week of fierce fighting between Rwandan and Ugandan troops - both forces that were allies of the rebels trying to oust President Laurent Kabila. The Ugandans withdrew, and unarmed UN observers moved in to monitor a new truce. Reports said at least 6,000 shells fell on the city, destroying entire neighborhoods, killing at least 150 civilians, and wounding more than 1,100 others.

Tensions rose higher still in Fiji after Army troops at a checkpoint fired on a motorcade carrying rebel leader George Speight. He was not hurt, but his spokesman claimed the incident was an assassination attempt and threatened harm to the hostages Speight and his followers have held since May 19. He said rebels had to be restrained from storming the capital, Suva, in retaliation for the attack. An Army commander blamed poor judgment by soldiers manning the checkpoint and said they'd be disciplined.

Police were investigating mysterious envelopes containing radioactive powder that were mailed to Japan's prime minister and other government officials. Although the shipments were of too low a level to be harmful to humans, one had a message warning that radioactive materials were being sent from Japan to North Korea. The intent was not immediately clear.

The chief suspect in the 1999 assassination of Paraguay's popular vice president was arrested at a resort in neighboring Brazil, authorities confirmed. Ex-Army chief Lino Oviedo is accused of plotting the murder of Luis Argana. Oviedo, who also is blamed for two failed coup attempts, had been hiding in Brazil after his political asylum was revoked in Argentina.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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