News In Brief

Threatening "not peace, but disaster," a senior Chinese official said his country would attack Taiwan if President-elect Chen Shui-bian rejected the cherished "one China" principle. The vow by Tang Shubei of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits appeared to go beyond the mainland government's rhetoric prior to the March 18 election won by Chen. At that time, an attack was threatened if the island's leaders declared independence, delayed a return to negotiations on reunification, or allowed foreign troops on its soil. Chen, who's to be inaugurated May 20, has ruled out the "one China" principle.

Two days after warning that "necessary actions" might be taken against the pro-reform newspaper owned by President Mohamad Khatami's brother, the Iranian Press Court ordered it closed. Two other dailies also were banned in the ongoing crackdown by hard-line Islamic clerics against the popular president's reform agenda. The moves left only one newspaper sympathetic to Khatami still free to publish, but it has been less outspoken than the others.

Prosecutors were denied their request for a new postponement of the impending trial of the Lockerbie bombing defendants. A Scottish court said the two alleged Libyan secret service agents charged with conspiracy to blow up Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 already had spent an unprecedented 416 days in custody. The trial was to have begun last June 7. The prosecution said it wasn't ready because the Libyans' lawyers had introduced new evidence and 119 additional witnesses.

Ten more Russian soldiers were killed in another in a series of ambushes by rebel forces in Chechnya. The casualties brought to more than 1,900 the number of Russians who have died in Chechnya since the breakaway region was invaded last September, the military acknowledged. In response, President-elect Vladimir Putin said he'd order more commandos to southern Chechnya, where most of the rebels are entrenched.

For the third month in a row, interest rates rose for the 11 countries that use the euro - this time after the new currency fell to its lowest value yet against the US dollar. The European Central Bank announced it was pushing up all three of its key lending rates by 0.25 percent, citing the risk of increasing inflation. The 13-month-old currency sank to 91.6 cents against the dollar in Tuesday's trading. It has lost 23 percent of its value since making its debut in January 1999.

A runoff election for president of Turkey was set for Monday after the leading vote-getter fell 86 shy of a first-round victory. Ahmet Necdet Sezer, a secular judge, became Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's compromise candidate after parliament earlier this month declined to allow incumbent Suleyman Demirel to seek another term. Sezer's nearest rival finished 220 votes behind.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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