News In Brief
Dozens of world leaders are expected to meet in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina today to discuss the implementation of a Western-backed "stability pact." It is aimed at promoting democracy, disarmament, and economic recovery in war-ravaged southeastern Europe. While eager for possible financial relief, leaders of Baltic states like Croatia and Slovenia don't want to lose autonomy if a regional bloc is established that includes Yugoslavia, and they're wary of strings being attached to aid from foreign governments. (Related story, page 2; related editorial, page 10.)
Insisting he is ready to implement the US-brokered Wye River peace accord with Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak discussed ways to advance peace in the Middle East with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria. Following an inconclusive meeting between Barak and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat Tuesday, Barak said he would seek the pull-back of Israeli troops from parts of the West Bank only if Arafat agreed. Barak wants to delay the land transfer to limit friction. The Palestinian leader, however, is anxious to gain control of more West Bank territory, after years of stalled peace talks with Barak's right-wing predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu. (Related story, page 5; related editorial, page 10.)
Fierce fighting raged in Kabul, Afghanistan, as the ruling Taliban militia launched rockets against a northern- based opposition alliance in an effort to exert its strict Islamic rule over the 10 percent of the country it does not control. At least five civilians were wounded in attacks on the Afghan capital. The Taliban are accused of being supported by Pakistan, a claim which both deny.
Turning up the heat on its efforts to crush the banned Falun Gong meditation sect, Chinese officials have ordered the arrest of Li Hongzhi, the quasi-religious group's founder. China reportedly plans to solicit help from Interpol in extraditing Li from his home in the US. Li, accused of "spreading superstition and malicious fallacies," is blamed for the deaths of followers who refused medication or committed suicide. Deemed as subversive, another 300,000 Falun Gong books were turned into pulp yesterday in Beijing (above), part of the mass destruction of more than 1.55 million Falun Gong publications this week.
In the latest Belgian food scare, Brussels has ordered the quarantine of an additional 175 poultry and pig farms throughout the country, fearing possible contamination from chemical dioxins. The move follows tests on feed supplied by the firm Versele, which showed the presence of chemicals that can indicate the presence of dioxins. Versele reportedly used fat from Verkest, a fat-processor in its feed. Verkest was one of the two firms responsible for a dioxin crisis in May.
While helping build a new classroom, 11 children in Tanzania were buried alive when a pit they were digging caved in. According to official reports from the site of the accident in Igomtwe, the children were reportedly working on a latrine for their school as part of a self-help program to save money.
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society