News In Brief

A fleet of 100 fuel tankers with police escorts left blockaded refineries to supply Britain's 13,000 gas stations and refuel emergency services as the nation entered the sixth day of its national crisis. Even as truck drivers, farmers, and small business owners vowed to continue protesting high prices at the pump, Prime Minister Tony Blair promised a quick end to the shortage but repeated his rejection of demands to lower the European Union's highest fuel taxes. Angry truckers hoped to clog traffic in downtown London as they drove in convoys outside Parliament.

The missed deadline for a final Middle East peace agreement passed quietly in Palestinian areas, where Wednesday once was to have been proclaimed as the first day of independent statehood. Senior Palestinian sources said formal talks with Israel would resume for "four to five weeks" once US special envoy Dennis Ross returns to the region, although a date for such a trip had yet to be announced by the White House.

A car bomb exploded in the underground garage of Indonesia's Jakarta Stock Exchange, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens of others. Authorities could not say immediately how many people remained trapped in the resulting debris as emergency crews were hampered by thick, acrid smoke. More than 1,000 workers were evacuated from the complex, which was closed for the rest of the week. Several unexplained explosions have wracked the city in recent weeks, including one outside the building where former President Suharto is to be tried on corruption charges.

Another milestone appeared near in the effort to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula with the announcement that the North's senior leader will visit South Korea next spring. Kim Jong Il promised the trip back in June to reciprocate South Korean President Kim Dae Jung's historic visit to Pyong-yang, the North's capital. Since then, the rivals have stopped propaganda broadcasts against each other, allowed hundreds of families divided by their 1950-53 war brief reunions, and announced that their respective teams will march together in tomorrow's opening ceremonies of the Olympic summer Games.

The remaining members of the EU vowed to keep a watchful eye on Austria's political climate even after lifting political and diplomatic sanctions against the Vienna government. The move came after an investigation committee concluded the seven-month-old sanctions imposed for including an ultra-right-wing party in its coalition government were no longer effective. Analysts said the sanctions triggered a backlash in the Austrian public and might have stoked an increase in nationalism.

A plea for emergency aid by Zimbabwe's government was rejected by the International Monetary Fund. The IMF, which has sent only one small loan payment to the struggling nation in five years, said no help would be given until President Robert Mugabe resolved such issues as the illegal seizures of white-owned farms, political violence, and rampant overspending.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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