News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, and Noel Paul

An explanation for Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "strange behavior" was demanded by Palestinians after he quickly rescinded the indefinite "timeout" he'd declared Tuesday in peace negotiations. Aides said the declaration stemmed from an "internal misunderstanding." But Palestinians rejected Israeli requests to resume negotiations immediately. And analysts said the move wouldn't help Barak in parliament, which returns from recess next month likely will try again to topple him via a no-confidence vote.

Anti-independence militias operating in West Timor were given until Sunday to surrender their weapons to Indonesian troops and police or have them taken away by force. President Abdurrahman Wahid also fired the Army's No. 2 general, in part for his inability to prevent hostilities by the militias. An East Timorese independence leader called the disarmament time-table "a gimmick to appease the international community."

President Alberto Fujimori said his government may change Peru's Constitution to restrict the head of state to one six-year term before his successor is inaugurated next summer. Asked by journalists what that would mean for him in 2006 elections, he said: "I've got a little surprise for you about what I'm going to do." He also surprised observers by climbing the gate to the government palace in Lima to greet supporters who gathered there earlier. Opponents have called on him to step down after his government was implicated in a bribery scandal.

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Another confrontation with authorities in Burma (Myanmar) appeared likely as Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi announced she'd try again today to meet with followers outside the capital, Rangoon. The ruling junta did not immediately react to her vow to visit an undisclosed site in northern Burma for discussions with others in her National League for Democracy. But when she attempted a similar trip Aug. 24, police stopped her on the city's outskirts. After a nine-day standoff, she was forced to return home.

Two French journalists escaped from a band of Muslim rebels in the southern Philippines as the latter fled an assault by government troops. But Jean-Jacques Le Garrec and Roland Madura said they and 17 other hostages held by the Abu Sayyaf group would have been released if the Army hadn't attacked. Residents said scores of civilians may have died in the assault.

Air France was given the OK to return a Concorde parked at New York's JFK airport to Paris in what could be the final flight for its supersonic jets. Officials said no passengers would be aboard. Air France Concorde flights were suspended after investigators determined a ruptured tire caused the July 25 crash outside Paris, killing 113 people. Experts say the airliner may not resume service, given the cost of likely modifications.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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