News In Brief
The first of a new round of peace-talk meetings between Israelis and Palestinians convened in the West Bank city of Jericho. But the talks centered on so-called interim issues such as water rights and the environment, with Prime Minister Ehud Barak confronting a no-confidence motion today in parliament and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on a new tour of foreign capitals to try to build support for his cause. Israel's justice minister said there could be no peace accord if the Palestinians insist that more than 1 million of their refugees must have the right of return to Israel.
Using his angriest rhetoric in years, Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori accused his political opponents of plotting to burn down Congress in last Friday's rioting. He compared the protest by tens of thousands of people - which resulted in six deaths and almost 200 injuries and left numerous buildings in downtown Lima in flames - to the actions of leftist terrorists.
Heavy rains delayed the start of voting across much of Vene-zuela for president and all other national, state, and local public offices. The election, postponed from May 28 because of technical problems with the ballot-counting system, was expected to give President Hugo Chvez a new mandate of six years under the rewritten Constitution. But observers said he could emerge weaker politically than before because at almost all other levels of government, opposition candidates enjoyed incumbency, greater name recognition than Chvez allies, or both.
Saying, "we realized our positions were not much different," representatives of the two Koreas planned to announce today an agreement on reopening their liaison offices at the Panmunjom truce village. The village is the only crossing point along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone that divides the two rivals. The move is seen as a way to further ease tensions on the peninsula. The liaison offices were set up in 1992 as a goodwill gesture but were abandoned later after a submarine landed 26 agents on a South Korean beach.
The ball was in Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's court as his government weighed how to respond to a scheduled three-day nationwide strike to protest ongoing political violence and the armed takeovers of white-owned farms. The labor action is to begin Wednesday, and both the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the Commercial Farmers Union said they'd join it. Analysts said Mugabe, who usually deploys police and Army troops to suppress strikes, risks further alienating foreign aid donors if he meets the strike with force.
Only about one-third of the expected crowd turned out for a key "unity rally" in Indonesia as word spread that beleaguered chief of state Abdurrahman Wahid's vice president wasn't attending. The absence of Mega-wati Sukarnoputri fueled speculation of a rift between them - a situation that could make it easier for the powerful People's Consultative Assembly to fire Wahid. The assembly opens its annual meeting Aug. 7. Wahid's maverick governing style has yet to cope effectively with the troubled economy or with sectarian and separatist violence.
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