News In Brief

Israeli officials were reassessing their commitment to a week-long cease-fire with Palestinians after a string of shootings in the West Bank that killed two Jewish settlers. A six-week cooling-off period that would lead to resumed peace negotiations will not begin today as planned because of the ongoing violence, the officials said. Israeli, Palestinian, and US security officials were to meet today to set a timetable for the lifting of a blockade from the edges of Palestinian areas and ending travel bans.

The Philippine military was poised to attack a Muslim rebel group holding some 26 hostages, including at least two Americans, in the jungles of Basilan Island. President Gloria Arroyo, who has vowed to wipe out the Abu Sayyaf, earlier rejected an offer from its leader to free its remaining captives in exchange for calling off the military's assault. Most of the hostages were seized May 27 from a resort on another Philippine island. The insurgents say they have executed one American.

In his first public comment on last weekend's in-person meeting with President Bush, Russian President Vladimir Putin said they have reached a "very high level" of trust, but he warned that Russia would strengthen its nuclear arsenal if the US developed its planned missile-defense shield. Putin also underscored Russia's position that the US not abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty, saying that would hurt global efforts to limit nuclear-weapons development.

Authorities in Yemen arrested at least seven members of a Muslim extremist group for allegedly plotting to attack the US Embassy in the capital, Sanaa. A senior official said explosives and maps of the embassy were found with the suspects, who belong to the same militant group believed to have carried out last year's bomb attack on a US warship in Aden, which killed 17 sailors. The group is reportedly linked to Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden. To date, Yemeni authorities have arrested more than 30 people in connection with the bombing of the USS Cole.

A government lawyer told Hong Kong's top court that 5,000 remaining migrants from mainland China have no legal right to stay there. The Court of Final Appeal ruled in 1999 that anyone with at least one Hong Kong parent may live there, but Beijing has said residency could only go to people with a parent who had Hong Kong residency at the time the child was born. The ex-British colony maintains its own legal and economic systems and tight border controls.

Thousands of tourists and scientists gathered in Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Madagascar to see the first total solar eclipse of the millennium. It will pass over central Africa tomorrow before disappearing at dusk over the Indian Ocean. The eclipse is expected to create a momentary shadow of complete darkness when the moon blocks the sun, bringing stars and planets into view.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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