News In Brief

Expectations were low in the Middle East for new Secretary of State Colin Powell's weekend trip to the region - the first by a senior US official since violence erupted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip last Sept. 28. Powell planned to offer no proposals for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, saying he intended only to "make an assessment of the situation."

The dispute over control of Kashmir took several new turns as India extended its latest renewal of a unilateral cease-fire there from 30 days to 90, only to have rival Pakistan dismiss the move as a propaganda stunt. Pakistan's foreign minister said economic cooperation with India could be developed if the dispute was settled "according to the wishes of the Kashmiri people" - and if restraints were in place on nuclear weapons development. But at the same time, a Navy spokes-man said nuclear-tipped missiles "may" be loaded aboard Pakistani submarines to counter a threat "emanating from Indian submarines."

The free-fall of the lira, Turkey's currency, was at 28 percent after the government devalued it as a casualty of Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's plan to reverse double-digit inflation. The move quickly won the support of the International Monetary Fund, which extended a $7.5 billion emergency loan to Turkey last fall. But it brought demands by Ecevit's opponents for his resignation. Critics blamed Ecevit for causing the crisis when he stormed out of a meeting Monday with President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, who he said had insulted him. But he rejected calls for a new national election.

Rape and torture convictions were handed down against three Bosnian Serb defendants by the UN tribunal in The Hague in the first case of wartime sexual enslavement to come before an international court. All three were found to have molested and beaten Muslim females as young as 12 in prison camps beginning in the spring of 1992.

A fugitive ex-general whose case triggered huge antigovernment protests in Croatia last week surrendered to authorities and was to face questioning about his role in the massacre of Serb civilians. Mirko Norac emerged from hiding after assurances that he'd be dealt with by Croatia's legal system rather than extradited to the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague. He is widely viewed as a hero of the republic's 1991 civil war over independence.

In its first sharp attack against President Bush, the North Korean government threatened to resume test launches of its long-range guided missiles, complaining of indications that the new US administration might take "a hard-line stance on us." The Pyongyang regime also said it was unhappy that construction of two nuclear power plants promised by President Clinton in 1994 is years behind schedule. Officials in South Korea said the threat could worsen efforts at unification of the peninsula.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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