News In Brief

Expectations for faster social and political change were certain to rise after Iran's pivotal parliamentary election, analysts said. The big winner in Friday's vote was President Mohamad Khatami, whose forces won control of parliament over the long-entrenched Islamic hard-liners. But transforming the mandate into actual change will be difficult, the analysts warned, for two reasons: The incoming lawmakers aren't united on such issues as state intrusion into private lives; and parliament has almost no say over security affairs, which remain firmly in conservative hands.

New grounds for attack against Taiwan were issued by the mainland Chinese government, which warned it was growing tired of waiting for reunification talks to begin. The move was seen as an effort to influence Taiwan's March 18 election. Opposition leader Chen Shui-bian, who leads in some public opinion polls, has pledged not to bring Taiwan to "the brink of war" over relations with the mainland, but his party openly espouses independence. China earlier has threatened force only if Taiwan was invaded by a third nation or dared to declare independence.

The search for hidden weapons in the bitterly divided northern Kosovo city of Kosovska Mitrovica will continue until "there are no major arsenals left," a NATO commander vowed. The house-to-house hunt led to rock-throwing Sunday by Serbs, who accused US and German peacekeepers of being overly aggressive. Two Americans were hurt. Tensions escalated still further as thousands of ethnic Albanians from elsewhere in the province marched on the city to demonstrate solidarity with its Albanian residents, although under an agreement to stop on the outskirts.

New efforts to ease the longstanding tensions between them cannot be attempted until Pakistan withdraws from the disputed state of Kashmir, India's prime minister said. Atal Behari Vajpayee vowed to resist international pressure to resume negotiations with Pakistan, with which his forces came close to a new war last year over Kashmir. President Clinton is due in the region next month and has offered to mediate in the dispute. India opposes outside intervention.

An offer of amnesty for the rebels trying to topple Congo President Laurent Kabila was rejected as "an insult." Kabila issued the offer Sunday, setting a six-month deadline for acceptance. Meanwhile, the rebels claimed the surrender of more than 20,000 Mai Mai militiamen. The Mai Mai have remained Kabila backers since fighting with his rebel movement to bring down President Mobutu Sese Seko in 1997.

The main rebel groups in Burundi's long civil war failed to show up for the start of new, high-profile peace negotiations mediated by ex-South African President Nelson Mandela. Fighting between ethnic Hutus and the Tutsi-dominated Army has killed an estimated 200,000 people since 1993. Clinton and French President Jacques Chirac are due to address the conference via videolink today.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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