News In Brief

Opening ceremonies for the historic summit of the leaders of North and South Korea were unexpectedly warm, prompting hopes that the rest of their long-awaited three-day visit might hasten peace on the divided peninsula. At an elaborate airport welcome in Pyongyang, the North's Kim Jong Il was quoted as telling South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, "let's have dialogue without reserve" on such issues as reunions for families separated by war and on opening land, air, and sea travel between their nations.

The same policies toward ultimate peace with Israel that his father pursued will remain in effect, Syria's presidential heir-apparent told Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Bashar al-Assad and Albright spoke for about 15 minutes at the funeral in Damascus for his father, Hafez al-Assad. (Related story, page 6.) Meanwhile, there appeared to be a split between his uncle, Rifaat al-Assad, who vowed to challenge Bashar's nomination as new president, and Rifaat's son Mudar. The latter called Bashar "our hope."

Saying its decision "is final," a key partner in Israel's coalition government announced its 17-member group was quitting. The defection by the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, if carried out, would mean the collapse of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's government. But Shas has issued the same threat before, only to back down when Barak met its demands. Shas said its move came because Barak has refused to fund its bankrupt school system. Last week, Shas deserted Barak and voted with the majority in parliament to adopt a measure that would result in new national elections.

The government leader at the center of the ethnic violence in the Solomon Islands said he'll resign. A vote of no-confidence in Prime Minister Bartholemew Ulufaalu is due to be held tomorrow in parliament. But regardless of its outcome, he said he didn't want to be part of a new government despite concerns that his departure could ignite new fighting. Ulufaalu was taken hostage June 5 by rebels from his own Malaita tribe resisting efforts by rival Isatubu militiamen to oust them from Guadalcanal, the main island.

Only a light penalty is likely to be imposed against the Filipino held responsible for last month's devastating global computer virus, law-enforcement officials in Manila said. Although overall damage from the "I Love You" virus is estimated as high as $10 billion, the Philippines has no law specifically governing computer crimes and can press charges only for fraud and malicious mischief. Legislators passed a bill last week covering computer hacking, but it has yet to be signed by President Joseph Estrada and can't be applied retroactively.

Promising anonymity for informants, Chile's armed forces pledged to determine the fate of more than 1,000 dissidents who disappeared under the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. But the deal with new President Ricardo Lagos's government drew heavy criticism from leftists, who said it will protect human rights violators. Supporters of Pinochet blasted it also as a betrayal of the elderly and frail ex-dictator.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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