News In Brief

Amid reports that he had accepted conditionally a US peace proposal, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat was to meet with Arab foreign ministers in Cairo today before giving his official decision on the proposal. Despite the development, an unnamed senior Israeli official was cited on Israeli radio as saying a peace deal was still remote - although violence in the Mideast seemed to have eased, if only temporarily. Above, Israeli settlers in the West Bank marched Tuesday to protest continuing the peace process with Palestinians.

The European Commission said it would consider a call from the International Federation of Journalists to intervene with Czech authorities over a conflict at the country's public-television company. Its workers, who were organizing a mass protest in the capital, Prague, are objecting to the recent appointment that a committee named by parliament made for the station's director. The journalists accuse Jiri Hodac of political partiality.

Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons into one of its military bases in the Baltics for the first time since the cold war, The Washington Times reported. The newspaper said the transfer to the base in Kaliningrad - which was detected last June - followed threats several years ago to position such weapons outside of Russia's territory in response to NATO's expansion. Kaliningrad is on a sliver of Russian territory not connected to the main part of Russia.

Fifteen followers of the Falun Gong spiritual movement were freed on bail after being charged in a Singapore court with illegal assembly and obstructing law-enforcement officers, police said. The 15 were arrested after a New Year's Eve vigil involving at least 60 Falun Gong members who gathered in a Singapore park to honor fellow adherents they say died in Chinese jails. Although China has outlawed the Falun Gong movement, it is registered as a legal organization in Singapore - but all groups there are required to have a permit to assemble publicly.

Analysts saw a deal among three Mexican telecommunication rivals as opening the way to the settlement of a trade dispute between that country and the US. Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex), the country's No. 1 telecom company, ratified an accord with Alestra and Avantel that upholds reduced interconnection fees, which are paid to hook up to Telmex's network. But the deal also requires Alestra and Avantel to pay the fees they withheld during the dispute. Prior to the deal, US competitors accused Telmex of excessively dominating Mexico's telecommunications market.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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