News In Brief

"One, two, or three more days" were granted by Israel's government for the Palestinian leadership to quell the violence in Gaza and the West Bank after Prime Minister Ehud Barak's deadline for the use of force expired. Barak also said he'd be willing to participate in a US-sponsored meeting with his Palestinian counterpart, Yasser Arafat, if one were arranged and would accept an official inquiry into the violence "under the authority of the US." Meanwhile, Arafat met with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan (l.) at the Palestinian headquarters in Gaza as the latter tried to reconcile the positions of the two sides.

NATO has no immediate plans to pull tens of thousands of peacekeeping troops out of the Balkans despite the peaceful change of government in Yugo-slavia, Secretary-General George Robertson said. He told alliance defense ministers that current missions in Kosovo and Bosnia will remain in place because "it is too early" to tell how the changes in Yugoslavia will affect the region. In Belgrade, meanwhile, allies of former President Slobodan Milosevic and his successor, Vojislav Kostunica, were squabbling over who'd hold which Cabinet posts in the transition government of Serbia, the largest remaining republic.

On the first anniversary of his seizure of power, Pakistan's military ruler promised to return the country to democracy by the end of 2002. But Gen. Pervez Musharraf said he'd ensure that changes made by his government will not be "undone" by successors - a hint that he will use the authority granted by the Supreme Court to rewrite the Constitution, giving the military an institutionalized role in running the country, analysts said. Public resentment has grown as Musharraf's pledges to revive the economy so far have failed to bear fruit.

Angry opposition legislators stalked out of a congressional hearing in the Philippines after President Joseph Estrada's coalition blocked testimony alleging that he accepted at least $8.5 million in payoffs from gambling syndicates. His coalition has a solid majority in the lower house and analysts say prospects that he may be impeached are weak. But the allegations come at a difficult time: The peso has been trading at an all-time low against the US dollar, and the Army continues to battle a stubborn Muslim guerrilla insurgency in some of the country's southern provinces.

His return to power all but guaranteed, ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide registered as a candidate for Haiti's national election Nov. 26. The onetime Roman Catholic priest will face four token candidates; the main opposition parties say they will boycott the election, claiming Aristide wants to return the impoverished island nation to a dictatorship. The Constitution barred him from succeeding himself when his term ended in 1995.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike, who died minutes after voting in Sri Lanka's election for a new Parliament, was the world's first woman prime minister. She was elected in 1960 to succeed her assassinated husband, and was returned to office twice more, eventually converting the island nation into a republic. She was the mother of current President Chandrika Kumaratunga.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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