News In Brief

Prospects for a three-way summit in Washington this month on Middle East peace appear dim, Secretary of State Albright said. But, winding up her meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the region, she said both sides would send negotiators early next week to the US capital and that Palestinian Authority chief Arafat would meet President Clinton at the White House next Wednesday.

Complicating Albright's mission, however, was one of the most serious threats to date to the government of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. The ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, his largest coalition partner, was hinting its 17 members would support a vote in parliament today to disband the government and force new elections over his policies on peace and funding for education. A united front by Shas would leave Barak with less than a majority. And while the measure would require three more votes for final passage, the need for new elections would tie up the Israeli political system for months and - with it - the peace negotiations.

A two-man mission will be sent to Peru before next month's inauguration of President Alberto Fujimori to work on ways to "strengthen" democracy, the Organization of American States decided. But, meeting in Windsor, Ontario, the OAS chose not to impose economic sanctions on Peru, despite problems with the voting in the May 28 runoff that Fujimori won because of a boycott by his challenger. Meanwhile, in Lima, a special prosecutor confirmed the existence of a conspiracy to forge signatures enabling Fujimori to qualify as a candidate for reelection.

A "logistical nightmare" was hampering relief efforts on Indonesia's Sumatra island, where Sunday night's earthquake killed at least 103 people and left thousands more injured and homeless. Bad weather, damaged roads, an airport closure, and an "overstretched" military already dealing with sectarian violence and separatist movements elsewhere left emergency crews struggling to care for the needy and find survivors. Meanwhile, a smaller quake hit central Turkey, killing at least three people and injuring more than 80 others.

Cheers of approval greeted the announcement by a Chilean appeals court that it was lifting the immunity from prosecution of ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet, clearing the way for possible trial. The court voted May 23, but refused to reveal its decision immediately. The ruling exposes Pinochet to 110 lawsuits stemming from alleged human rights abuses during his 17-year reign.

In a move that leaves Poland's government without a working majority, Freedom Union (UW) members ended its alliance with the Solidarity bloc. Weeks of talks failed to resolve UW leaders' demands that Prime Minister Jerry Buzek be replaced by someone capable of pushing difficult economic reforms through parliament. Buzek's coalition now is vulnerable to early elections and likely defeat by ex-Communists.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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