News In Brief

If, after a "few weeks," Palestinian peace negotiators do not offer concessions on Jerusa-lem, Israeli Prime Minister Barak will ask his hard-line political rivals, the Likud Party, to join his government, a key aide said. The aide said Barak also would try to curb the influence of Orthodox Jews in an effort to make a coalition between his Labor Party and Likud more feasible. Likud so far has ruled out joining Barak's government. A reversal of that position would be seen as toughening the Israeli negotiating position on peace with the Palestinians. A senior adviser to Palestinian leader Arafat said his side would accept nothing less than full sovereignty over Jerusalem.

Despite acute financial hardship at home, the government of Zimbabwe admitted spending "about $260 million" so far to send Army troops to the distant Congo to support embattled President Laurent Kabila. Analysts said the admission likely would rock Zimbabweans, who already are laboring under a 70 percent inflation rate and declining social services, compounded by an agricultural crisis because of the seizure of white-owned farms by militant blacks. Kabila has promised to reimburse the costs of Zimbabwe's support but so far has failed to follow through. Moreover, a cease-fire in Congo's civil war has all but collapsed.

Because ex-President Suharto did not appear for the opening of his trial on graft charges, Indonesian authorities declared a recess until Sept. 14, pending an evaluation of his health by independent physicians. The opening session was quickly adjourned after Suharto's attorneys maintained that a last-minute exam by his own doctors concluded "he could not face the court." Suharto, who ruled for 32 years, is accused of misusing $583 million belonging to charities he controlled.

Pressure mounted on parliament to pass a controversial measure that would purge thousands of Islamic fundamentalist civil servants from jobs in Turkey's government. Speaking at a social function on Victory Day, a national holiday, armed forces chief Huseyin Kivrikoglu said such fundamentalists "have spread everywhere," even into the judiciary, in their efforts "to destroy the state." They must be weeded out, he said. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit tried to issue the measure by decree but was stymied when President Ahmet Necdet Sezer refused to sign it. The military, which sees itself as guardian of official secularism, has carried out three coups since 1960.

Citing the need to ensure that voting would be "credible and transparent," the military junta in Ivory Coast announced a five-week delay in the election for a new president. The move pushes the date back from Sept. 17 to Oct. 22. The military has promised to return power to a civilian government, but critics said the postponement was a ploy by Gen. Robert Guei, the junta leader, to enhance his own prospects after he originally said he wouldn't be a candidate.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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