News In Brief

New israeli prime minister Ehud Barak's timetable for reaching a permanent peace deal with the Palestinians - October 2000 - isn't acceptable, the latter said. Planning Minister Nabil Shaath said in exchange for the Palestinians' decision to forgo a unilateral declaration of statehood back in May, a peace agreement would have to be concluded by May 2000. "We're already very late," he said. Analysts said the Palestinian stance indicated Barak's "honeymoon" with them may already be over.

China appeared to win two victories in its campaign against Taiwan's efforts to stake out a position of equality in government-to-government relations. Taiwanese spokesmen said the wording of President Lee Teng Hui's controversial new insistence on state-to- state ties will be changed to avoid any "confusion." Meanwhile, the Beijing regime applauded the announcement by Papua New Guinea's new prime minister renouncing his predecessor's July 5 decision to recognize Taiwan diplomatically.

Once again, thousands of followers of a movement that combines martial arts and religious meditation turned up in Beijing, to protest an ongoing crackdown against their ranks. But police broke up the Falun Gong demonstration, busing hundreds of people back outside the capital. Similar protests were reported in seven other cities. The government regards Falun Gong with suspicion, especially since a massive turnout in Beijing April 25 seeking official protection for the movement. Above, police order three demonstrators not to approach the government compound.

The 10-day-old truce between India and Pakistan in fighting over disputed Kashmir was under threat as the two sides engaged in heavy shelling. Indian units were targeting more than 100 infiltrators who've yet to withdraw from their positions, and the Pakistanis retaliated with a bombardment of their own. A spokesman for the guerrillas said they did not believe they were bound by the disengagement agreement and wouldn't leave Indian territory.

With an estimated 400,000 people already marooned by flooding, Bangladesh braced for more heavy rains. Adding to the challenge for rescue workers, a tornado left another 2,000 people homeless. Much of the country has yet to recover from last year's monsoons, which killed 1,500 people and caused $2 billion in damage to crops and the nation's infrastructure.

An estimated 30,000 marchers responded to an opposition-party call to protest the economic policies of Ecuador's beleaguered President Jamil Mahuad. The rally in Guaya-quil, the country's richest city, came on the heels of a transportation strike that forced Mahuad to rescind a 13 percent fuel price increase. Defense Minister Jos Gallardo warned of serious civil disturbances if opposition calls for Mahuad's resignation continued.

Two-thirds of Germans now say Chancellor Gerhard Schrder's nine-month-old government is doing a poor job, a new poll reported. The survey found support for the government at 29 percent, its lowest since last fall's election. Respondents especially cited discontent with Schrder's economic policy.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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