News In Brief

Prospects for a new Middle East peace summit in Washington early next month appeared poor as Secretary of State Albright shuttled between meetings with Palestinian and Israeli leaders. At the earliest, talks between Palestinian Authority President Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Barak could be held at an unspecified date after the July 4 US holiday "if" the rivals agree on the basis for one, a Palestinian source said. Arafat demanded Israel surrender all of the West Bank, eastern Jeru-salem, and Gaza. Israel's foreign minister called that "capitulation, not a process of peace."

For the first time, Taiwan's new president said he'd embrace the "one China" policy cherished by the communist government in Beijing. But Chen Shui-bian's comment, although hailed by aides as a major concession, appeared to fall short of full endorsement because he said it was "unacceptable" to view one China as the mainland People's Republic. It was not immediately clear how the Beijing government would respond.

Campaigning for president in Mexico's national election ground to a halt with a respected public opinion poll showing the two leading candidates within three percentage points of each other. But rightist challenger Vicente Fox lost what analysts said was his last hope of presenting a united front against ruling party candidate Francisco Labastida. Fox's emotional appeal to the third candidate, leftist Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, to join him in ending the 71-year reign of Labastida's Institutional Revolutionary Party was angrily rejected. Labastida was favored by 42 percent of likely voters in the poll, to 39 percent for Fox.

The police commander blamed for provoking last July's violent street demonstrations in the capital of Iran was fired just 10 days before their first anniversary. Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei did not explain why he removed Brig. Gen. Hedayat Lotfian, but dissident university students said the move was made to keep the lid on commemorations of the week-long unrest. Applications by student leaders to hold rallies on the anniversary are pending before the Interior Ministry.

Opposition leaders were urging a boycott of today's referendum in Uganda on the nation's political future. They claim the vote is rigged to confirm President Yoweri Museveni's National Resistance Movement as opposed to adopting an alternative multiparty system. Museveni, who has led Uganda to its longest peaceful period since independence in 1963, suspended multiparty democracy 14 years ago.

Almost 100 members of Thailand's parliament resigned in a bid to force an early general election that they hope would oust Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai. But analysts said the move by members of the opposition New Aspiration Party (NAP) was likely to backfire since Chuan refused to dissolve parliament before the remaining lawmakers OK a new budget. He must call an election by mid-November. The NAP appeared to be gambling that Thailand's economy would not emerge from recession before the vote.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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