News In Brief

The fourth meeting between crew members of the US Navy surveillance plane and senior American officials was allowed by Chinese authorities. But the Chinese kept up a drumbeat of demands for a formal US apology and an end to the types of flights that led to the forced landing of the plane April 1. And, citing US intelligence sources, the Washington Times reported China was preparing for an underground test of nuclear weapons that would send a strong political signal to the US government.

Despite a comfortable lead, as vote-counting in Peru wound down, populist presidential candidate Alejandro Toledo was headed for a runoff with former head of state Alan Garcia. Toledo attracted 36 percent of the vote in Sunday's first round of balloting, to 26 percent for Garcia. Lourdes Flores, who was bidding to become the nation's first woman chief executive, trailed them at 23 percent, election officials said. The second round is expected to be held next month or in early June.

New doubts surfaced about the likelihood that reform-minded Iranian President Mohamad Khatami would seek reelection after the second roundup of political dissidents in less than a month. Khatami urged moderation in the wake of a sweep Sunday by security police in which 42 people linked to the banned Freedom Movement were arrested. His pattern has been to complain about crackdowns by Iran's hard-line Muslim clergy. But he has been unable to stop them. The deadline for nominations for the presidential vote is May 7, and Khatami's brother said he will not declare his intentions until the last minute.

Three more journalists quit in a deepening internal feud over control of NTV, which until last week was Russia's only television station not under Kremlin control. The defections bring to five the number who've left and raised doubts about how long the remaining members of the news staff can maintain their refusal to accept a new slate of directors installed by the state-controlled Gazprom utility, NTV's largest stockholder.

"Mercy killing" appeared all but certain to be approved by the upper house of parliament in the Netherlands today, ending a campaign that began in 1973. Passage of legislation legalizing the act for persons diagnosed as terminally ill would make the small country known for social innovation the first in the world with such a practice. The measure sailed through parliament's lower house last Nov. 28.

Countering rumors that had sent prices soaring on world markets, officials in Saudi Arabia strongly denied that King Fahd had died. The monarch, in ill health for years, has delegated many governmental affairs to his half-brother. But TV footage showed him still active. The rumors caused crude oil futures prices to jump 25 cents a barrel on the London market.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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