News In Brief

Two sets of emergency meetings were scheduled to try to defuse the growing violence in the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab towns in Israel. Prime Minister Barak and Palestinian Authority President Arafat planned to talk with Secretary of State Albright today in Paris, then with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo tomorrow after a cease-fire lasted less than four hours. In five days of clashes, at least 51 people have been killed and another 1,400 wounded. (Stories, pages 2, 4.)

The use of force was threatened by embattled Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic against his political opponents and independent news outlets as a wave of protests across the country entered its second day. Government-ordered power blackouts were imposed in cities under the control of opposition parties, but striking coal miners refused an appeal by the Army to return to work. Milosevic continued to insist on a runoff election Sunday against opposition leader Vojislav Kostunica. (Stories, pages 1, 7.)

Widely publicized tours of secret Irish Republican Army weapons caches by two international inspectors last June exposed them only to outmoded arms of little remaining use to the movement, security sources told The Times (London). The report said ex-Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari and South African politician Cyril Rama-phosa were shown little or no vital weaponry, took no inventory of what they saw, and that the old arms are certain to have been replaced by now. At the time, the inspections were seen as a confidence-building move in a bitter dispute over the pace and scope of IRA disarmament, a key obstacle to permanent peace in Northern Ireland. (Related opinion, page 11.)

A "staring game" was developing across the Iraq-Kuwait border as busloads of Bedouin arrived, ratcheting tensions up another notch. Kuwait rushed police to the boundary and placed them on alert. Western observers said the Bedouin, or stateless Arabs, did not appear armed but could - on orders from the Iraqi government - try to sweep across the border, claiming Kuwait as their rightful home. Kuwait's Bedouin population fell by more than half following the 1991 Gulf war.

A mostly serious mood prevailed as Germans observed their 10th anniversary of reunification. But despite tributes by visiting foreign leaders, critics called the 1990 union between the prosperous West and formerly communist East a merger of unequals, since unemployment in the latter remains twice the national average and wages are 15 percent lower.

The youngest son of ex-President Suharto admitted guilt in a corruption case and appealed to the Indonesian government for a pardon to avoid time in prison. Hutomo (Tommy) Mandala Putra remained free, pending a decision by current chief of state Abdurrahman Wahid. He is the first member of the Suharto family to be convicted.

For the first time in 20 years as President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe agreed to debate on his political future by his own political party. The discussions, to take place at a special December meeting of the ZANU(PF), are a sign, political observers said, of deep discontent among its members over his handling of such crises as economic decline and the seizures of white-owned farms by black squatters. In 1998, Mugabe fired a ZANU(PF) member for openly challenging his rule.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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