News In Brief

Despite the impending arrival of Secretary of State Albright in the region, Palestinian officials said the time isn't right for another meeting between their leader and Israeli Prime Minister Barak. Albright's visit, the second this month, is for the purpose of pulling together a US-sponsored summit in Washington between Barak and Palestinian Authority President Arafat. But aides said Arafat believed US mediators would side with Israel on issues on which the rivals are far apart. Meanwhile, the second Israeli Cabinet minister in two days said his party would quit Barak's coalition if the prime minister went to the summit and made concessions to the Palestinians with which it disagreed.

For the third time since 1997, China has been caught using US-made supercomputers illegally in its weapons program, The Washington Times reported. Citing a leaked intelligence report, it said China's main nuclear warfare center has diverted the computers - some 600 of which were bought between 1996 and 1998 - from civilian applications to simulate warhead blasts without underground testing. This, a former export-control official said, allows experts to design new multiple, independently targeted warheads that can fit on smaller missiles, making it hard for the US to determine the scope of the threat posed by China.

His failure to win a two-thirds majority in Parliament means Zimbabwe's president will have to change his authoritarian ways, analysts said. Robert Mugabe's party fought off a resurgence by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in last weekend's elections, but emerged with only a five-seat edge - 62 to 57. Mugabe is empowered to appoint persons of his choosing to 30 other seats. But he no longer can muster enough support without MDC help to change the Constitution, as he did in April when lawmakers OK'd an amendment to allow the seizure of white-owned farms.

Seeking to reunite families separated by the 1950-53 war, Red Cross officials from both Koreas began a new round of negotiations. But, while reaffirming the commitment to reunification pledged at the historic summit of the Korean leaders two weeks ago, the talks faced immediate challenges in the North's refusal to allow a South Korean reporter and a dispute over the repatriation of spies. The talks, which ended after 80 minutes, are set to resume tomorrow.

By unanimous vote, Syria's parliament approved the presidential nomination of Bashar al-Assad. The son of longtime President Hafez al-Assad, who died June 10, is set to be sworn in for a seven-year term July 17 - one week after a national referendum on his nomination that is expected to result in 99 percent approval.

Rebels will be excluded from any new government if they don't free Fiji's ethnic Indian prime minister and 26 others they've held hostage since May 19, the nation's military junta said. But rebel leaders rejected a 24-hour deadline for the release and said any attempt to rescue the hostages by force would result in bloodshed.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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