News In Brief

A day after destructive riots raged in Athens, President Clinton told Greeks the US had not acted on its "obligation to support democracy" by backing the 1967 military coup in their country. At the next stop on his 10-day European tour, Clinton traveled to Florence, Italy, for a summit on governing countries from the political center-left. At the conference, he underscored the need for improved Internet access for developing countries.

China launched and landed its first unmanned spacecraft, the Shenxhou. The state-run Xinhua News Agency announced the mission only after it successfully touched down in Inner Mongolia after a 21-hour orbit. Western observers expect China to send its first astronauts into space next year, but the Beijing government has announced no timetable.

Colombia extradited its first national in nine years for trial in the US. Jaime Orlando Lara, a suspected heroin trafficker, was escorted by police to a US Drug Enforcement Agency plane and reportedly flown to Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Such extradition are controversial: A wave of bombings, kidnappings, and murders followed the Following its 199O extradition to the US of cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. The next year, the South American nation outlawed the practice of turning over its nationals to foreign tribunals. However, the ban was lifted in late 1997 after intense US pressure.

As some 5,000 guerrillas barricaded themselves within the Chechen capital, Grozny, Russian troops completed their encirclement of the city. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin emphasized "there will be no pauses" in Russia's operation to eliminate all terrorist bases and all conditions for their revival" across the country, of which Chechnya is officially a part.

Claiming to be supporters of ousted prime minister Nawaz Sharif, members of the Al Nawez group claimed responsibility for the Saturday bombing in Lahore, Pakistan, that killed seven people. But Sharif's Muslim League (PML) denied the existence of the group.

Calling the practice "a stain on [its] book of laws," Justice Minister Yossi Belin announced that Israel's Cabinet had taken the first step in abolishing the practice of detaining Palestinians without trial. Since its creation in 1948, Israel has remained under a state of emergency, which the Cabinet has asked to be extended for six more months. This provision has allowed Israeli military in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to sequester Palestinians for extendable six-month periods, a practice condemned by human-rights observers.

The UN Children's Fund, UNICEF, marked the 10th anniversary of its "Convention on the Rights of the Child" in ceremonies in Oslo. The UN organization commended the parliaments of Britain, Botswana, and Honduras for their efforts to protect the social, economic, human, and political rights of children. The UNICEF convention has been accepted by every country except the US and Somalia.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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