News In Brief

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's coalition appeared to be collapsing ahead of Tuesday's Camp David summit as his biggest political partner, the Shas party, said it was leaving the government. Two other parties said they'll also quit the coalition over concerns that Mr. Barak might cede too much at the summit. The exodus leaves Barak with a 42-78 minority in parliament. Right-wing parties have demanded that Barak spell out the limits of the concessions he is willing to make, after word leaked that 80 percent of West Bank land would be transferred to Palestinians.

Fiji's military leaders caved in to most rebel demands and signed a pact paving the way for the release of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and 26 other political hostages being held since May 19. The deal calls for a new government but also disenfranchises ethnic Indians, who make up 44 percent of the population. The rebels have been granted amnesty from any acts of treason carried out during their coup. Western nations, including the US, have threatened economic sanctions unless Fiji returns to a full multiracial democracy.

The world's seven richest nations can look forward to even greater prosperity, finance ministers in the Group of Seven said Saturday at a summit in Fukuoka, Japan. The ministers said growth prospects for the less wealthy nations will depend on how quickly they can join the Internet revolution. At the same time, the G-7 also committed to help poor nations by speedily implementing an earlier plan to write off $100 billion in debt owned by some 40 of the world's poorest nations.

Demonstrators challenged the very existence of the Islamic system and called for an end to clergy rule in Iran in the worst unrest in a year. Reformist allies of President Mohamad Khatami, who want to seek change through peaceful and legal channels, distanced themselves from the events. Khatami followers, parading with flowers , stood by as pro-democracy supporters clashed with hard-line vigilantes Saturday. The rallies were held to mark last year's suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations. The clashes left scores of demonstrators arrested and many on both sides badly wounded.

Two explosions in southern Russia drew concerns that the Chechen conflict may spill beyond the borders of the rebel province. The two bombs killed seven people. The explosion in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, came more than a year after a bomb at the same marketplace killed more than 50 people. Russian officials blamed the March 1999 bombing on Chechen separatists .

Marchers in the contentious Northern Irish Protestant parade were stopped by police at the Roman Catholic Garvaghy Road sectarian flash point, and the event passed off peacefully, escaping the violent clashes that have marred previous years. Hundreds of marchers of the Protestant Orange Order dispersed after the parade, despite calls from their leaders to stay put and continue to protest. Meanwhile, police said suspected Irish Republican Army dissidents detonated a car bomb outside a police station in a predominantly Catholic town west of Belfast.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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