News In Brief

Even as Yasser Arafat flew to Washington for talks with President Clinton, Israel's Ehud Barak accused the Palestinian leader of dragging his feet. He also said the Israeli military has been preparing for the possibility of a full-scale regional confrontation. The comments came a day after more than three dozen Israelis were hurt in a car bombing in Netanya, a city north of Tel Aviv.

Taiwan and China launched their first direct links in more than 50 years, as three ferries from Taiwanese islets crossed the strait separating the rivals. The links were grudgingly approved by Beijing, which says the plan does not go far enough - especially because it didn't OK links between China and Taiwan's main island.

At the impeachment trial of Philippine President Joseph Estrada, a senior bank official testified that her boss ordered her to cover up Estrada's ownership of a multimillion-dollar account under a false name. Prosecutors said the testimony by Clarissa Ocampo, of Equitable PCI Bank, shows Estrada used hidden accounts to move undeclared fortunes. Philippine law requires the president to disclose all assets and income. Security at the Senate, which is hearing the case, was tight after bomb attacks over the weekend killed 15 people and injured more than 100.

Cambodia's National Assembly took a key step in the drive to put on trial former leaders of the notorious Khmer Rouge regime of the 1970s. By a 92-to-0 vote, it approved a law for establishing a tribunal of local and foreign judges and prosecutors. The development pushes forward a process that had been stalled since earlier last year, when Cambodia and the UN reached agreement in principal about trying the leaders. The just-passed legislation must be adopted by the Senate and be signed by King Norodom Sihanouk before becoming law.

The first session of the new legislature in the Mexican state of Tabasco degenerated into fistfights as lawmakers grappled with fallout from the state's gubernatorial election. A candidate for the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, had won the vote, but the federal Supreme Electoral Tribunal had annulled the result because of apparent balloting errors. Then, the old PRI-dominated Congress used its last session Sunday to name a PRI legislator as interim governor. After the fistfights, PRI and opposition legislators were meeting to discuss the possibility of naming another interim governor.

Rescuers pulled a man alive from the Mediterranean Sea more than 24 hours after a cargo ship with some 70 suspected illegal immigrants hit rocks and split in two off Turkey's coast. In all, 33 people have been rescued from the Georgian-flagged Pati, but some 50 remain missing and eight have been confirmed dead. The accident early Monday follows a boating disaster in Bangladesh last Friday, in which a ship carrying about 400 passengers collided with another ferry and sank. Reports put that death toll between 106 and 178.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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