News In Brief

Setting the stage for his arrival at the Group of Eight economic summit later this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a new "friendship treaty" in Moscow with his visiting Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin. The document is the first of its type between the two nations since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. While not a military alliance, it is seen as a thinly veiled challenge to US influence in the post-Cold War era and the Bush administration's plan for a controversial missile-defense shield.

Two would-be Palestinian bombmakers were killed as the device they were assembling near a stadium in Jerusalem exploded prematurely. It apparently was intended to go off as Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon opened the so-called "Jewish Olympics" known as the Maccabiah Games. Elsewhere, fierce fighting erupted as Israeli tanks entered a Palestinian zone of Hebron in the West Bank, destroying five police posts in retaliation for weekend shooting attacks on a nearby Jewish settlement.

The high-profile meetings between the leaders of Indian and Pakistan were running overtime as aides bogged down over the language of a final statement. It was expected to discuss such issues as security, terrorism, narcotics, and especially disputed Kashmir, over which Pakistan's Gen. Pervez Musharraf and Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee sought to appear tough before hard-liners in their respective nations. As they talked in Agra, the casualty count in fighting between Indian troops and Islamic militants in Kashmir rose to 83 dead. (Story, page 6; editorial, page 8.)

A surgeon who is fluent in five languages easily won election as the new chief executive of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Belgian Jacques Rogge defeated four other candidates to succeed Spain's controversial Juan Antonio Samaranch, who held the post for 21 years. Rogge, who represented Belgium three times in the Summer Games in sailing, is his country's second IOC president and only the organization's eighth in its 107 years. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 8.)

By a 93-to-36 vote, members of Croatia's parliament gave the government a crucial victory in a vote of confidence over the extradition of war-crimes suspects. Twenty-two other legislators abstained or were absent. Prime Minister Ivica Racan sought the unprecedented vote amid strident criticism over his reformist cabinet's decision to hand over two indicted senior military commanders to the UN tribunal in The Hague. The move triggered a political crisis that threatened to bring down his 18-month-old administration. Many Croats regard the two suspects as heroes of the republic's 1991-1995 war for independence from Yugoslavia.

At least 72 people were reported dead in new fighting between militiamen and troops of Somalia's fledgling government. More than half of the casualties were said to be civilians trapped between the rival sides and unwilling to leave their homes out of concern that their property would be looted. Somalia's various militia leaders reject the legitimacy of the armed units loyalty to the new Transitional National Government, which they accuse of having "war-oriented intentions."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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