News In Brief

Plans for a transitional government were to be announced by Pakistan's coup leader. Gen. Pervaiz Musharraf gave no hint about the content of his nationally televised speech, although an Army statement said the top priority would be "economic revival." A published report said Musharraf promised a Japanese envoy he'd give Pakistan a "better democracy" than the rule of ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

A lengthy defense of the decision to offer an independence referendum to East Timor drew sustained applause for President B.J. Habibie from the special assembly that will choose Indonesia's next head of government. But it was too soon to tell whether the People's Consultative Assembly would accept or reject Habibie's "accountability report" of his interim presidency when it issues its decision. The assembly is to vote on a new president Wednesday.

Help in completing a costly missile-tracking radar system was offered to Russia by the Clinton administration in exchange for negotiating a new arms-control treaty, published reports said. Quoting officials from both nations, The Washington Post and New York Times said the US wants a new pact so it can build a national missile-defense system without violating terms of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Russia, China, North Korea, and possibly Iran and Iraq are believed to pose a long-range missile threat to the US, an intelligence report found.

Entire towns threatened by a newly active volcano in Ecuador were emptying as authorities warned it could erupt within days. Gases, steam, and ash expelled by Tungurahua over the past several days are blamed for the deaths of tens of thousands of chickens. The volcano, 75 miles south of Quito, the capital, last erupted in 1920.

Members of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders in East Timor said they appreciated the award but had no time to celebrate it. The French-based group operates a tent clinic in Dili, the capital, and is trying to clear its caseload before the arrival of the rainy season. Its 2,000-plus professionals also have served in such trouble spots as Bosnia, Kosovo, and Rwanda. The prize was awarded Friday.

Suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden "will never be given up at any price," Afghanistan's Taliban leaders declared, despite threatened new UN economic sanctions. Last Friday, the Security Council OK'd the sanctions beginning Nov. 14 if bin Laden isn't handed over for trial on charges that his agents bombed two US embassies in Africa, killing 224 people. The Taliban says its own inquiry exonerated bin Laden, a longtime guest in Afghanistan.

Leftist rebels and government negotiators announced they'll try again to reach a peace deal that would end 35 years of civil war in Colombia. Their talks are to begin Sunday in Uribe, a town that once was the command center for Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrillas. Negotiations deadlocked in May after the rebels refused to allow international observers to monitor their activities.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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