News In Brief

The Irish Republican Army issued a new statement reminding all parties to the Northern Ireland peace process that it never has pledged to surrender its weapons and wouldn't be pressured to do so by Britain or the province's Protestants. But the IRA said disarmament, the key issue threatening collapse of the North's Protestant-Catholic coalition government, is a "necessary objective." The statement followed the imposition of a deadline for an IRA declaration of intentions set by Britain's minister for Northern Ireland. Otherwise, he said he'd strip the coalition of its powers by Friday.

Police stormed the campus of Mexico's National Autonomous University at dawn, arresting hundreds of students who'd perpetuated a nine-month-old strike that exasperated school authorities and the government. The move came after 12 hours of negotiations over strikers' demands failed early Saturday.

In a bitter TV interview, Austrian ultrarightist leader Jrg Haider blasted the European Union but pledged not to block its expansion efforts. He also denied he'd use his position in the new coalition government to dictate national policy. Haider said it was "a deep injustice" that the EU was proclaiming sanctions against "tiny" Austria because of his anti-immigrant views but had taken no action against Russia's "brutal doings in Chechnya."

His criticism of the EU for its move against Haider pulled opposition leader Esko Aho into a virtual tie with rival Tarja Halonen as voters went to the polls in the runoff for the presidency of Finland. Halonen, the leftist foreign minister, won the first round of balloting Jan. 16. But while she enjoys the backing of women voters, her support for the EU's move against Austria was seen as striking a negative chord with Finns, who are wary of the union's control over European affairs.

A hijacked commercial jet with 140 people aboard was airborne again, although its destination was unknown as the Monitor went to press. The plane, belonging to Afghan-istan's Ariana Airlines, had been on the ground in nearby Kazakhstan for refueling after being commandeered on a flight from Kabul to the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif. The identities of the hijackers were not known; Afghanistan's anti-Taliban opposition disassociated itself from the act. They reportedly had demanded to be taken to Kiev, capital of Ukraine, or Moscow.

New questions about the safety of Germany's passenger-rail system were expected after an overnight express derailed at high speed near Cologne, causing heavy casualties. At least nine people were killed; 100 others were hurt. Many of those aboard were headed for a ski outing in Switzerland. Less than two years ago, 101 people died in the wreckage of another high-speed train near Hannover.

The US was eliminated from yachting's most prestigious competition, the America's Cup, ensuring that the prize will go either to Italy or to defending champion New Zealand. Italy's Prada defeated AmericaOne by 49 seconds in the ninth and deciding race for the right to challenge New Zealand. The finals are to begin Feb. 19 in another nine-race event off Auckland.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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