News In Brief

A hero's welcome engulfed Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat as he returned to Gaza from the 15-day Camp David, Md., peace talks with Israel. Thousands of supporters thronged his headquarters, hoisting him onto their shoulders in praise for not bargaining away the Palestinian claim to Jerusalem, although reports said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had offered a capital in the city's eastern sector, called Al-Quds in Arabic, and religious freedom.

By contrast, Barak is scheduled to face another no-confidence vote Monday in parliament, where his Labor Party-led government no longer commands a majority. But analysts said he appears certain to survive the test since he signed no deal with the Palestinians. The Knesset is to begin a summer recess Aug. 6 and does not return until Oct. 29, giving Barak time to try to form a new unity government while he and Arafat attempt again to meet their own deadline for reaching a final accord.

Air France pointed to last-minute repairs on one engine as a link to the crash of its New York-bound Concorde jet that killed 113 people. All the carrier's Concorde flights were suspended indefinitely as investigators searched the crash site outside Paris for clues to the plane's failure. Hairline cracks discovered this week in some British Airways Concordes were ruled out as a factor in the accident.

Bowing to the apparently inevitable, Russia's regional governors voted to oust themselves from the upper house of parliament. By the move, they yield more power to President Vladimir Putin, who seeks to centralize Soviet-style authority over the far-flung country in Moscow. The measure passed last week in the lower house by enough votes to override an upper-house veto.

Prosecutors said they'll charge former President Suharto with corruption in defrauding Indo-nesia of $155 million. But although Suharto is suspected of enriching himself, his family, and associates to the tune of billions of dollars during 32 years of authoritarian rule, the charge applies only to his role as chairman of seven charitable foundations. He had been under house arrest for failing to cooperate with the prosecution, and his lawyers claim he is too frail to stand trial.

Massive protests in the streets of Lima, Peru, appeared imminent as President Alberto Fujimori prepared for tomorrow's inauguration. Up to 250,000 demonstrators called out by former opposition candidate Alejandro Toledo are expected to try to disrupt the ceremonies. Thousands of heavily armed police already were in position to cordon off a 35-square block area. And, under orders, businesses were closing as a security measure.

Despite a grant of amnesty for his role in Fiji's eight-week political crisis, rebel coup leader George Speight and at least two followers were in police custody. Conflicting reports said they were arrested for a curfew violation and on suspicion of weapons violations and making threats against new President Ratu Josefa Iloilo. Violations of curfew usually are punishable by small fines, but the arrests appeared likely to raise tensions in the racially split nation.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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