News In Brief

Crisis measures were in place across much of Europe as more livestock herds showed signs of the spreading foot-and-mouth disease. It was too soon for a Continent-wide vaccination campaign, European Union officials said, but they met in emergency session in Brussels following confirmation of the first cases in France. Germany, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Switzerland quickly banned all imports of animals from France, and, in Italy, sheep suspected of carrying the malady were being slaughtered. British authorities said their caseload was up to 200 sites, and Army troops were assigned to help kill infected animals.

The new cease-fire between ethnic Albanian guerrillas and Yugoslav forces appeared to be holding in southern Serbia, but a few miles away in Macedonia fierce gunfights broke out between other Albanian units and government forces attempting to drive them back across the border. There were no reports of casualties, but Macedonia's prime minister said the estimated 200 to 250 intruders "might shift to a form of terrorism" deeper inside the country, "which would create an enormous problem."

Another cut in production of crude oil - as much as 1 million barrels a day - appears certain when members of OPEC meet Friday in Vienna, influential officials said. The cartel, which voted in January to reduce production by 1.5 million barrels daily, wants to achieve a price goal of $25 a barrel in the second quarter, the sources said. A "basket" of seven grades of OPEC crude averaged $24.38 on futures markets Monday, and members are said to be worried that a global economic slowdown will reduce demand and swell stockpiles.

It's impossible to schedule an early session of Indonesia's legislature for the purpose of impeaching controversial President Abdurrahman Wahid, its speaker said. His comments seemed to give Wahid a few months' grace despite a violent second day of protests in the capital by thousands of demonstrators demanding his ouster. Wahid was censured by the People's Consultative Assembly in February and has until May to submit his formal response. Meanwhile, the Army warned it would take control of security from the police if turmoil continued, and the Jakarta stock market closed at a two-year low.

Today's scheduled no-confidence vote in parliament on Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared destined to fail after an influential party backed out of an earlier pledge to support it. Without the 84 votes of the Unity Party, Putin's largest support group in the Duma, or lower house, the sponsoring Communists are unlikely to topple the government. Nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky also said his faction would not support the first test of Putin's leadership in parliament.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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