World

The UN Earth Summit ended on a discordant note in South Africa, with environmental activists booing and jeering Secretary of State Powell's speech defending US policies on consumption of resources, aiding impoverished nations, and global development. The activists also blasted the action plan developed by summit delegates on such issues as sanitation, energy consumption, sustainable agricultural projects, and restoring fisheries to maximum sustainable yields. A Rainforest Action Network spokesman said he was "proud to be from America but embarrassed by American policies."

Other senior leaders in Europe appeared to turn on British Prime Minister Tony Blair for his support of the US against Iraq. In Berlin, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder said: "With all due respect for Tony Blair ... he will not speak for Europe." Through its Foreign Ministry, the French government said it could not support the release of secret evidence – promised by Blair "within the next few weeks" – of Iraqi weapons-development programs. Blair's office was not commenting on a report in The Times (London) that he would meet President Bush before Sept. 29 for "crisis talks" on Iraq.

Another senior leader of Hamas was captured by Israeli forces in the West Bank, the second in less than a week and at least the sixth since mid-July. Two others died in military strikes. Meanwhile, without saying when or where, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced he'd agreed to meet "a top Palestinian personality" for the first time since January. Analysts said the Palestinian is likely not Yasser Arafat, whom Sharon has said he won't meet. The meeting is expected to focus solely on security matters.

The four-year ban on the separatist Tamil Tiger rebel movement was dropped by Sri Lanka's government as a condition for the resumption of formal peace negotiations. The move had been demanded by rebel leaders, despite the objection of President Chandrika Kumaratunga. She has insisted that the ban should end only after the negotiations show progress. They are scheduled to open Sept. 16 in Thailand. The civil war over an independent Tamil homeland has killed an estimated 64,000 people.

Lawyers for the speaker of Indonesia's parliament vowed an immediate appeal after a court in Jakarta found him guilty of graft and sentenced him to three years in prison. Akbar Tandjung's case was seen as a major test of the sincerity of the government's drive to rid politics of corruption, since he also is the leader of President Megawati Sukarnoputri's largest coalition partner. Critics noted that his sentence was a year shorter than prosecutors had sought and far below the maximum 20-year term for a graft conviction.

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