News In Brief
The chief UN war crimes prosecutor for the Balkans ended a tense three-day visit to Yugo-slavia warning that its government would be compelled to address the extradition of former President Slobodan Milosevic sooner or later. Carla Del Ponte rejected the argument that Milosevic should be tried on Serbian soil. Yugoslavia's lack of cooperation in handing over Milosevic and other Serbs indicted by the tribunal, she said, damages its hopes of breaking out of diplomatic isolation.
Negotiators for Israel returned to peace discussions with their Palestinian counterparts, and there were strong hints that the leaders of the two sides - caretaker Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat - would meet at the World Economic Forum in Switzerland. But amid the positive developments, the casualty count from continuing violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rose to 385 deaths with the shooting of two more Palestinians in clashes with Israeli soldiers.
As hundreds of police and soldiers outside braced for potential trouble from protesters, the annual economic forum opened in the resort city of Davos with warnings that the US and Japanese economies were headed for dramatic drops in growth. The six-day conference, which attracts many of the world's leading politicians, business people, and cultural figures, is expected to devote much of its time to considering how to keep vast areas of the world from falling behind in a growing technological age.
The first public spat between the communist government of China and the new Bush administration erupted over the banned Falun Gong movement. A Foreign Ministry spokesman in Beijing said State Department calls for China to respect civil liberties were "totally unacceptable" and could harm bilateral relations.
For the second day in a row, the swearing-in of new Congo President Joseph Kabila was postponed. Officials maintained the inauguration would take place today. News reports said the Supreme Court had yet to decide on the appropriate "constitutional mechanism" for the transfer of presidential power. The appointment by parliament of the youthful and inexperienced Kabila as chief of state is said to annoy many Congolese, who consider it equivalent to making the nation a monarchy.
A new political crisis appeared to be developing in the Philippines just as the nation was adjusting to the departure of President Joseph Estrada. Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado quit the Cabinet of Estrada's successor, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, over her appointment of a former armed forces chief of staff as national security adviser. Mercado said he couldn't work with Lisandro Abadia, who is under investigation for corruption. (Related story, page 7.)
Charges of negligence and violation of maritime law may be brought against the captain of the oil tanker that capsized off the environmentally sensitive Galapagos islands, Ecuador's government said. He and 13 crewmen were arrested as leaking diesel fuel from the ship reached a third island, although authorities said no animals appeared to have been injured so far.
A woman and six other members of her family were among 19 suspects denied bail in Trinidad after police seized a half-ton of cocaine, the largest narcotics haul in the Caribbean nation's history. The cocaine, with an estimated street value of $33 million, was sealed in plastic bags of frozen cassava for export to Miami.
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