News In Brief

Amid new polls that show a majority of Israelis opposing the return of the Golan Heights, Prime Minister Ehud Barak was expected home tomorrow from peace talks with Syria. Reports said he issued a directive reducing compulsory military service for males from three years to 2-1/2 years - a move seen as aimed at winning new support for a deal that, at Syria's insistence, would include the return of the strategic plateau.

The Irish Republican Army was not commenting on a published report that it has invited witnesses to observe the destruction of some of its weapons later this month. London's Sunday Telegraph said the IRA also offered to seal its remaining arsenal in bunkers in the Republic of Ireland - to be monitored by the independent disarmament commission for Northern Ireland. If true, those would be the first practical steps toward eliminating the main obstacle to full peace in the North.

The move to subpoena Elian Gonzalez for testimony before the US Congress was met with howls of protest by Cubans rallied by their government for a demonstration in Havana Saturday. Tens of thousands of students lashed out at US Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana and other legislators who support the Cuban-American community in south Florida, where the boy is staying with relatives. Another rally in Elian's hometown, Cardenas, was addressed by his father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez , who called Burton "no one."

Top Army commanders denied they planned to seize power in Ecuador, despite the mounting economic unrest that threatens the remainder of President Jamil Mahaud's term. The country's Roman Catholic Church also indirectly backed Mahaud, who declared a state of emergency last week. But it was not clear what the military would do about strikes called by an alliance of leftist politicians and unions - today and Wednesday - to demand Mahaud's immediate resignation. Meanwhile, his government said it was upping its inflation forecast for the year from the previous 50 percent to 65 percent. At 60.7 percent last year, it was Latin America's highest.

A secret location in northern India was to be the temporary new refuge of the teenage Buddhist leader who fled Tibet despite his inability to obtain an exit visa. The 17th Karmapa, Tibet's third-ranking lama, arrived in India Jan. 5 after a week-long trek across the Himalayas. He holds the highest Buddhist rank recognized both by China's communist government and by Tibetans in exile. Beijing authorities had refused him permission to leave Tibet. But official reports said his trip was aimed at collecting "holy relics" and did not constitute a betrayal of China's confidence.

Voter gratitude for the political stability that Uzbekistan has enjoyed since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 appeared likely to propel President Islam Karimov to an easy reelection victory. Even his lone opponent said he'd voted for the incumbent. Karimov has kept the central Asian nation from becoming directly involved in the civil war in neighboring Afghanistan.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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