News In Brief

Civilians by the thousands were streaming out of Macedonia's No. 2 city and senior Western diplomats announced they'll make an urgent visit today as the Balkan republic teetered on the brink of heavy new fighting. The Skopje government gave ethnic-Albanian insurgents an ultimatum to retreat from Tetovo or its troops would begin a major offensive. These developments followed hours of rioting in Skopje, where thousands of angry Slavs accused the US and other Western powers of appeasing the Albanians.

A Chinese-born US citizen was en route by plane to San Francisco after being expelled by the Beijing government just before Secretary of State Powell's high-profile visit this weekend. Li Shaomin, who teaches business, was convicted earlier this month of spying for Taiwan. Meanwhile, Powell left a meeting with his Chinese counterpart hinting that two other Chinese residents of the US - convicted Tuesday of spying for Taiwan - also would be deported without having to serve the 10-year prison terms to which they were sentenced. (Story, page 1.)

In a face-saving move, ousted President Abdurrahman Wahid was preparing to take himself out of the path of political change in Indonesia by flying to the US for medical treatment. He is expected to leave today, with an aide saying he finally has accepted his impeachment by parliament and hoped successor Megawati Sukarnoputri would "return the situation in a good way." But he also predicted that, under her, Indonesia would return to military-backed authoritarian rule.

Commercial flights were taking off and landing as Sri Lanka's only international airport reopened a day after a violent assault by Tamil rebels. But security was intense, access to the facility was limited to passengers only, and Britain joined the US in warning its citizens to avoid the island nation. Meanwhile, the number of casualties from Tuesday's raid rose to 20 dead, and police said they had detained three Tamils in their 20s as suspects in the attack.

Shivers ran through financial markets in Argentina as the opposition-dominated Senate vowed to hold up crucial consideration of President Fernando de la Rua's controversial $1.3 billion austerity plan. The measure has cleared the lower house of Congress, but its proposed 13 percent slash of salaries and pensions for civil servants is disliked by the opposition Peronist Party, which said it would "have alternatives" next week. Senate passage is vital if Argentina is to meet its $128 billion debt.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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