News In Brief

Elian Gonzalez's father will be rewarded with a job as a government adviser when he returns to Cuba, the president of parliament said. The announcement came as an estimated 400,000 Cubans - among them members of both sides of the boy's extended family - were called to ceremonies for what was to be the 39th anniversary of victory in the Bay of Pigs invasion. But it turned into a celebration of Elian's seizure by federal agents in Miami, with a three-hour speech by President Fidel Castro.

The revised May 13 deadline for agreement on the outline for a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians almost certainly will be missed, both sides said. But an Israeli spokesman said dates were unimportant and that the outline "could" be signed in June. The May date was arrived at when negotiators failed to meet their original deadline, Feb. 13. Senior Palestinian delegate Mahmoud Abbas said the September target date for signing the final accord also was likely to be missed and blamed Israel for the delays.

A "tactical" withdrawal of 10,000 Army troops from an important base in northern Sri Lanka was acknowledged by military officials after it came under heavy attack by Tamil rebels. The base fell late Saturday. It was not possible to verify the rebels' claim that more than 1,000 soldiers died in the fighting or the claim by defense sources that 49 had been killed versus 150 of the rebels. The retreating troops were said to be massing to defend the city of Jaffna, which the rebels lost in 1995 and seek to recapture.

A major issue when the leaders of North and South Korea meet for their historic talks in June will be reunions of families separated when war erupted on the peninsula 50 years ago, a senior Seoul government official said. He said the two sides "share the same view on this," since an estimated 7.7 million people - 10 percent of the peninsula's combined population - are affected by the separations. North Korea previously has been cool to the idea of discussions on reunions, especially, analysts said, because of the obvious disparity between prosperous and well-fed South Korean residents and North Koreans, many of whom remain malnourished after years of drought and famine.

Despite a proposed deal linking new financial aid for Zimbabwe to ending the seizures of white-owned farms, two more were invaded over the weekend. One farmer reported being assaulted; the other said his manager had been taken hostage and two women were trapped inside his house. In Harare, the capital, a bomb shattered windows of a newspaper that often is critical of President Robert Mugabe. In a meeting of regional leaders Friday, Mugabe was offered British - and perhaps US - funding to help buy white-owned farms that would be redistributed to blacks.

At least three government soldiers and an undetermined number of Muslim rebels were killed in the southern Philippines in an attempt to free hostages taken from local schools late last month. The assault began early Saturday after the rebels began making good on a threat to systematically execute males in the group of 27 hostages. The government has rejected rebel demands that three Islamic militants held by the US be freed.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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