News In Brief

Relative calm prevailed across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, although two more Palestinians died and three others were hurt in clashes with Israeli troops. The violence came as the Palestine Authority confirmed its leader, Yasser Arafat, had accepted an invitation to meet with President Clinton in Washington Thursday. Addressing a major rally in Tel Aviv marking the fifth anniversary of government chief Yitzhak Rabin's assassination , Prime Minister Ehud Barak said he also might go to the US.

More key political allies of embattled President Joseph Estrada were expected to cut their ties with him this week, increasing pressure on him to resign. The potential defectors are led by the Laban ng Demokrati-kong Pilipino, one of three parties in Estrada's coalition government. Despite heavy flooding from tropical storms, an estimated 60,000 protesters marched in Manila Saturday to demand that Estrada quit. Last week, his treasury secretary and five economic advisers joined the growing ranks of deserters.

The first two domestic commercial passenger flights since the 1991 Gulf War took off and landed without incident in Iraq. A government spokesman said the flights, in defiance of Western-imposed no-fly zones, would continue daily and that Iraq would not comply with a request to notify the UN of their departure times or routes. US and British jets patrol both northern and southern no-fly zones to keep Iraqi military planes grounded under UN sanctions that remain in place.

Fuel taxes, the heaviest in the European Union, will not be lowered because doing so would neglect other social needs, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said. With a week to go before truck drivers, farmers, and others plan to renew protests suspended in September over the taxes, motorists engaged in a new round of panic-buying of fuel Saturday. But protesters said they wouldn't repeat their earlier blockades of oil refineries, which brought Britain to a near-standstill. Meanwhile, oil companies were reassuring the public that there is enough fuel to go around.

A Greek who held a busload of tourists hostage before surrendering to a TV talk show host broke away from guards and leaped to his death from the seventh floor of Athens's central police station. The suicide ended a two-day ordeal that began when he killed his mother-in-law and a friend he suspected of having an affair with his wife. He then hijacked the bus, threatening to execute its elderly Japanese passengers. No one else was harmed in the drama, which was carried live around the world via television.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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