News In Brief

In a grim new spiral of violence, Israeli forces and Palestinians traded attacks that appeared to further weaken hopes for resumption of peace efforts. Hours after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed himself and two Israeli soldiers and injured 11 others at a bus station near Tel Aviv, Army helicopters rocketed a house in Bethlehem. Four Palestinians died in the latter strike, two of whom, Israeli officials said, had been planning to bomb closing ceremonies of the Maccabiah Games in Jerusalem next week.

The suicide bombing came in defiance of an order by Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat to halt attacks inside Israel. He warned of new arrests of Palestinian activists if the bombings continue. But a coalition of militant groups said it would not be bound by Arafat's decrees and vowed "every settler and soldier is a target for our fighters."

Security precautions were in high gear in Genoa, Italy, for this weekend's annual meeting of Group of Eight leaders. A 13-foot-high chain-link fence was being erected to block access to many of the roughly 200 alleys leading to the conference site, and police raided the "social centers" of leftist groups there and in other cities, confiscating items that could be used as weapons. Three McDonald's fast-food outlets in Genoa closed, apparently out of concern that they'd be targeted by antiglobalization activists, who've said they hope to rally 100,000 protesters.

Aides to the military ruler of Pakistan went to unusual lengths to put the best face on his high-profile meeting with Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee. Disputing accounts that the talks had failed, Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said the leaders had had "a meeting of the minds" and that "there is no purpose to be served in fault-seeking" for lack of a breakthrough on the Kashmir dispute. For their part, senior Indian officials said they'd "pick up the threads" of the talks in future meetings between Vajpayee and Pervez Musharraf.

A nationwide strike was called for tomorrow by angry labor unions in Argentina after the governors of 14 opposition-run provinces agreed to back President Fernando de la Rua's controversial "zero deficit" plan to restore confidence in the deeply troubled economy. The plan, which would cut public spending to the level of revenues, seeks to reverse three years of recession and allow Argentina to honor its $128 billion debt. But in a concession to the opposition-party governors, it frees each to decide his own method of balancing the books.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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