News In Brief

A low-key official reaction by senior officials in Taiwan greeted the expected announcement of which weapons the US is prepared to sell. But on the Chinese mainland, the Foreign Ministry blasted the news as "gross interference in China's internal affairs." Taiwan's Defense Ministry spokesman, Huang Sui-sheng would not even comment on reports of the arms sales.

New Prime Minister-designate Junichiro Koizumi prepared to assume power in Japan, pledging to end a decade of economic drift and elevate the armed forces to constitutional status. Koizumi won the presidency of the Liberal Democratic Party via a 298-to-186 vote of parliament, which assures him the prime ministership since the LDP is the dominant member of Japan's ruling coalition. But analysts said he'll have a delicate balancing act between trying to implement his proposed reforms and maintaining unity within the coalition.

Although Israeli and Palestinian security officials agreed to try to reduce violence, the Hamas and Hizbullah movements led an international conference in warning the Jewish state of more "surprise" suicide and mortar attacks. The two-day gathering of more than 30 Islamic countries was convened by Iran. In opening the conference, supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said "the numbers of the Jewish Holocaust were exaggerated to ... lay the grounds for the occupation of Palestine."

Tens of thousands of rural supporters of Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid were heading to the capital, Jakarta, for a show of strength as parliament prepared for another vote of censure - and possibly impeachment - against him Monday. Meanwhile, in the first of what are expected to be many public demonstrations, hundreds of other supporters already in Jakarta protested peacefully as police looked on. Wahid, the country's first elected president, already has been censured once for his alleged involvement in two multimillion-dollar scandals.

An auction of $750 million in government bonds was called off and President Fernando de la Rua was preparing to appoint a new central bank chief if, as expected, Argentina's Congress sought to remove the current director. Analysts saw the two developments as deepening the nation's financial crisis. Argen-tina, mired in a three-year-long recession, owes $22 billion in debt payments this year. The bond auction was suspended to avoid having to pay high yields, the Finance Ministry said.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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