News In Brief

A strong mandate was being claimed by the Democratic Opposition of Serbia (DOS) as vote-counting showed it headed for a landslide victory in the republic's parliamentary election last weekend. Ex-President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party noted, however, that it would remain the largest single party in Serbia's legislature because many of the 18 parties in the DOS alliance could not attract as much as 5 percent of the vote on their own.

Israel and the Palestinians were deciding how to respond by tomorrow's deadline to a new proposal for peace put forward by President Clinton. The plan calls for trading control over Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem to the Palestinians in exchange for the latter's waiving of their demands that hundreds of thousands of refugees be allowed the right of return to lands they or their families abandoned in Israel.

Despite a surprise attack that killed three people inside one of India's most historic landmarks, the government said it would continue its overtures toward settlement of the Kashmir dispute. The raid Friday by a Pakistan-based Islamic guerrilla group, Lashkar-e-Taliba, targeted the 17th century Red Fort on the outskirts of the capital, New Delhi. Lashkar-e-Taliba is among militant groups that have rejected India's unilateral cease-fire in Kashmir. Kashmir-related violence has rarely spilled outside the boundaries of India's only Muslim state.

Appearing in good health, 45 police and government soldiers were freed as a goodwill gesture by rebels of Colombia's leftist National Liberation Army (ELN). The second-largest guerrilla force opposing the government released the hostages - some of whom had been held for three years - as momentum builds for a resumption of bilateral peace negotiations.

No truce is possible without progress at the negotiating table, Sri Lanka's government said in rejecting the unilateral Christmas cease-fire offered by Tamil separatist rebels. But a defense official conceded that the rebels may have scored major public relations points with the offer of a one-month cessation of hostilities. Meanwhile, government forces claimed to have killed or wounded 142 more rebels in heavy new fighting.

Tobacco companies in Canada estimated that a tough new government policy would cost them $30 million in losses as it requires packs of cigarettes to carry photos of diseased human tissues to go with sharply worded health warnings. It went into effect last weekend. Canadians buy 2 billion packs of cigarettes annually, but the policy is aimed at achieving a 3.4 percent drop in smoking by 2010.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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