News In Brief

By , Judy Nichols, Noel Paul, and Sara Steindorf

With expectations low, world leaders gathered at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in an effort to stem the recent violence in the Middle East. President Clinton urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to "move beyond blame" in assessing the cause of clashes that have killed more than 100 people this month. Clinton hopes to return to the US tomorrow. In the West Bank, meanwhile, Israeli soldiers exchanged gunfire with isolated groups of Palestinians, injuring at least seven people.

Despite the emergency talks, Barak was close to forming a coalition government with right-wing Likud movement leader Ariel Sharon in an effort to present a united front against the Palestinians, an aide said. Sharon, whose Sept. 28 visit to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem is widely blamed for inciting the violence, has said he would not join the government if - at the summit - Barak discusses giving the Palestinians portions of the city that both sides claim as their capital.

"Purely for self-defense," the government of China must strengthen its armed forces, a published report said. The move was justified in a policy paper because of "grim" relations with Taiwan and bullying by major powers such as the US. It followed an effort by Premier Zhu Rongji to reassure neighboring Japan that China is not a menace to the region. The paper did not say how the military would be beefed up, but China has been buying sophisticated Russian-made weapons.

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Emergency crews were in contact with a woman trapped under six feet of debris in a Swiss mountain village near the border with Italy. But hope faded for 22 others missing in massive weekend mudslides and flooding that wrecked communities on both sides of the boundary. At least 17 people died or were reported missing. Meteorologists said heavy rains in the region were turning to snow.

The suburbs where the worst food riots in Zimbabwe's history erupted in early 1998 were again the scene of violent clashes between police and protesters angry at a new round of price increases on bread, sugar, soft drinks, and transportation. Reports from townships outside Harare, the capital, said hundreds of demonstrators set fire to buses, threw rocks at store windows, looted bread trucks, and blocked streets to discourage others from going to work.

After months of stunning election defeats, including the loss of the presidency for the first time in 71 years, Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) appeared in contention to win the governorship of Tabasco, a vital oil-producing state. With vote-counting nearing completion, the PRI's Manuel Andrade held a narrow lead over Democratic Revolution Party candidate Raul Ojeda, and was calling himself the winner. Final results were not expected to be announced until tomorrow.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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