News In Brief

Throngs of joyous South Koreans turned out to greet President Kim Dae Jung on his return from three days of meetings with the leader of rival North Korea. Kim proclaimed "a new era" in relations after his joint communique with Kim Jong Il that pointed to such confidence-building measures as reunions of thousands of families divided by the peninsula's 1950-53 war. Analysts, however, said reunification of the communist and Western-oriented societies was, at best, still decades away.

The Irish Republican Army was under new pressure to hurry up and make good on its pledge to allow inspections of its weapons caches by outside monitors "within weeks." Northern Ireland's First Minister, David Trimble, warned the IRA that Protestants expected the "confidence-building measure ... very soon indeed." The May 6 pledge was seen as the key factor in reconvening the suspended Protesant-Catholic coalition self-rule government. Ex-Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and prominent South African politician Cyril Ramaphosa have been appointed to inspect the IRA arms dumps.

In a hand-written note from his jail cell, Russian news media tycoon Vladimir Gusinsky accused the Kremlin of moving toward a new dictatorship. Gusinsky's statement did not mention any officials by name. But he said "high-ranking representatives of the government" view the news media as "an obstacle to building a new Russia as they see it," with a return to labor camps filled with political prisoners as well as criminals. Prosecutors said they'd file charges against Gusinsky "within 10 days."

"Too many Britons" control Zimbabwe's economy and will be ousted as owners of mines and other industries after the national election later this month, President Robert Mugabe told interviewers. Four hundred British-owned companies remain in the country despite an economy weakened by years of official mismanagement and the recent seizures by armed black squatters of white-owned farms. Critics blasted Mugabe's threat as "an act of gross irresponsibility" and said they hoped it was only "electioneering." Zimbabweans are to vote in two weeks for a new parliament in what appears to be the greatest challenge yet to Mugabe's 20-year rule.

A promise to allow police to return to their jobs in the capital of the Solomon Islands appeared an empty gesture by the militiamen who have held the city since June 5. The Malaita Eagles Force still was refusing to hand back the police weapons its members seized, so officers were in the position of patrolling the streets unarmed. The Malaitans vowed to surrender the weapons only after a peace agreement has been reached with rival Isatubu militiamen that addresses compensation for property seized when thousands of Malaitans were driven off Guadalcanal, the Solomons' main island.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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