News In Brief

The first sign of a way out of the deepening diplomatic standoff between China and the US came from the former's foreign minister. Tang Jiaxuan said his government wants "the collision incident" resolved "appropriately" as soon as possible, Chinese news agencies reported. No other details were offered, but "appropriately" was seen by analysts as meaning that China desires to protect its dignity in the matter. The Bush administration has rejected demands for an apology over the incident and indicated that surveillance flights off the Chinese coast are unlikely to end.

Breaking its silence on the standoff, the Taiwan government urged the US to sell the high-tech weaponry it wants to defend against possible Chinese aggression. President Bush is expected to decide soon how many of Taiwan's arms requests the US will supply.

A flurry of high-level contacts between Israeli and Palestinian officials led to new optimism for an end to violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In Athens, Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres met with senior Palestinians Nabil Shaath and Saeb Erekat and confirmed reports that follow-up talks between security officials of both sides would take place Wednesday night at the US ambassador's residence. Meanwhile, three Israeli members of parliament called their meeting with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in the West Bank "encouraging."

Wasting no time after the Supreme Court rejected Joseph Estrada's appeal to be reinstated as president of the Philippines, prosecutors filed eight criminal charges against him, making his arrest likely if a warrant is issued. Estrada, who claims innocence, called the charges "fabricated" and said he does not expect a fair trial. But he denied he would try to flee the country.

For the first time, unpopular Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori indicated clearly that he won't seek reelection to the leadership of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. Since the LDP is the dominant partner in Japan's coalition government, its president automatically becomes prime minister. Last month, Mori offered to move up the LDP leadership election, due in September, and reports said it likely will be held April 23. Ex-Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, who left office in 1998, appeared the early front-runner to succeed Mori.

Former President Jimmy Carter and 34 others in an international group of elections monitors are due in Peru, today for preparatory meetings before Sunday's vote to choose a successor to the ousted Alberto Fujimori. The election will be the second in less than a year, or since Fujimori claimed victory in a runoff last May 28 that was boycotted by populist challenger Alejandro Toledo. Toledo leads in opinion polls over ex-chief of state Alan Garcia and Lourdes Flores, a onetime high-profile member of Congress. But the same polls suggest that another runoff may be necessary.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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