News In Brief

Ex-Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic is expected to plead not guilty tomorrow when he appears before the UN war-crimes tribunal in The Hague to hear his indictment for crimes against humanity. Belgrade's reformist leaders defied a federal court order last week that would have postponed the handover in exchange for $1.28 billion in aid pledged by the West. In protest, Yugoslav Prime Minister Zoran Zizic resigned and Montenegro's Socialist People's Party quit the coalition. Milosevic will be the first head of state tried for crimes committed in office and faces life imprisonment if convicted.

Protestant leader David Trimble resigned as head of the joint Catholic-Protestant government in Northern Ireland, saying he would return only if the Irish Republican Army permanently disarmed. Trimble's departure posed the greatest risk yet to the 1998 Good Friday peace accord, which aimed to end violence in the Protestant-majority British province and included disarmament by all paramilitary forces. The power-sharing government has six weeks to reinstate Trimble or replace him, before the Northern Irish assembly is suspended.

Israeli warplanes attacked a Syrian army radar station in Lebanon - the second such strike in three months. The attack wounded two Syrian troops and a Lebanese soldier. Israel said the airstrike was in retaliation for a Friday attack by Hizbollah guerrillas on its northern border. Hizbollah quickly responded by firing rockets and mortars at Israeli military positions in disputed territory on the south Lebanon border.

Leftist rebels in Colombia freed 62 government police and soldiers as part of a mass prisoner release hailed as a major boost for peace talks to end Colombia's 37-year-old civil conflict. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, handed over the war prisoners, who were flown to an army base near Medellin where they were reunited with family. The FARC also liberated 242 police and soldiers last week in a unilateral release it called a gesture of peace.

A North Korean family seeking asylum in the South arrived safely at an airport near Seoul, sparking an angry response from Pyongyang, which said their bid could harm reconciliation efforts between the two Koreas. The family had taken refuge at a U.N. refugees commission in Beijing and was allowed to leave China Friday, despite China's policy to return North Koreans who flee.

Congo eagerly ended an 11-year break in relations with Belgium, its old colonial ruler, welcoming Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt in the first visit by a Belgian leader since the Cold War. Belgians immediately ended a moratorium on direct aid that had lasted nearly as long as the rift, signing four initial accords that will bring $18 million in aid to its plundered and war-ravaged former colony.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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