Three Glimmers of Peace

With President Bush beating the war drums against three nations backing terrorism, it's worth noting how three other trouble spots are instead using peace pow-wows to settle their conflicts.

In Indonesia, Cyprus, and Sudan, negotiations to end years of violence or division are showing some success. While the reasons for the conflicts remain strong, the powers of persuasion by mediators appear to be equally effective. At the least, they're preventing an escalation of violence.

• On Tuesday, a peace deal was signed between warring Christians and Muslims from Indonesia's eastern Molucca islands. Three years of fighting had left more than 5,000 dead.

While causes for this conflict in the Spice Islands were largely local, the violence had stoked Islamic radicalism in the rest of Indonesia, led by the radical group, Laskar Jihad.

With more Al Qaeda sympathizers being uncovered in Southeast Asia, this deal will help quell sectarian tensions in the region, and may keep Indonesia from splitting apart.

• Talks to resolve the hot-cold conflict between Greece and Turkey over the divided island of Cyprus have gone into a fourth week, under United Nations mediation. A plan to loosely reunify the Mediterranean island - which was split after a Turkish invasion in 1974 - could be achieved by year's end. What's driving the talks is the European Union's offer to let the Greek Cypriot side join the EU, something Turkey also wants.

• Africa's most devastating war - in Sudan, the continent's largest country - has claimed some 2 million lives. But Sept. 11 and a US initiative have opened a window for peace between the government in the Arab and Islamic north and rebels in the Christian and black south. Last month, the two sides signed a limited cease-fire pact, opening prospects for a wider cease-fire. And Islamic leaders in the capital are cooperating with the US in its antiterrorism efforts.

These three achievements may just be false dawns. But with war in the air globally, any glimmer of peace is a welcome sight.

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