News In Brief

US and Syrian spokesmen were expressing "disappointment" at the failure of President Clinton to restart peace negotiations between the Damascus government and Israel. Clinton and his Syrian counterpart, Hafez Assad, left their meeting Sunday in Geneva after the latter rejected as "nothing new" an Israeli proposal for limited with- drawal from the Golan Heights in return for guarantees on water rights and normal diplomatic relations. In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak said it was clear that Syria wasn't ready for peace and that he'd shift his focus back to a final settlement with Palestinians. (Story, page 6.)

New domestic strategies and "correctives" to Russia's foreign policy will be forthcoming now that Acting President Vladimir Putin has won the office in his own right, a spokes-man said. On the basis of near complete returns from Sunday's balloting, Putin led his nearest challenger, Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, by 53 percent of the vote to 29 percent - enough of a margin to avoid a runoff. (Story, page 1; editorial, page 10.)

Using prison labor, authorities in Uganda found the remains of at least 74 people in a mass grave at the edge of a field belonging to the same sect involved in what appeared to be a suicide fire March 17. The discovery came as an investigation continued into the blaze at a Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God compound elsewhere in the country. Meanwhile, suspicions grew that leaders of the sect, rather than perishing in the fire themselves, may have fled as some members questioned why their doomsday predictions weren't coming true.

The Miami relatives of Elian Gonzalez "are capable of killing the boy" as they run out of legal options to keep him from his father in Cuba, President Fidel Castro alleged. In a rhetoric-filled speech to students in Havana, he predicted Elian would be back in Cuba within three weeks as the US Justice Department fulfilled its stated intention to expedite his return.

In a new show of support for President Saddam Hussein, Iraqis were expected to go to the polls in huge numbers to choose a new National Assembly. The 250-seat parliament mainly rubber-stamps the decisions of Saddam's Revolutionary Command Council, but does have the power to make recommendations. Among the 512 candidates: Saddam's eldest son, Udai, who was seeking his first elective office. Failure to vote in Iraq can be punished by prison terms or even execution.

An even more leftist government was in store for France as Prime Minister Lionel Jospin reshuffled his Cabinet. He accepted the resignation of his finance minister, ousted the culture, education, civil service, and public function/state reform chiefs, and added four new lower-level posts. His new appointees include a Communist (the fourth in his Cabinet), two Socialists (one of them ex-prime minister Laurent Fabius), and a member of the environmentalist Green Party. Analysts said the moves were made because of massive opposition to Jospin's educational reform and tax-collection overhauls and to preserve his viability as a presidential candidate next year.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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