News In Brief

After negotiations stretching into the early morning hours, President Clinton announced a cease-fire agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Speaking at the conclusion of a summit in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, Clinton said both sides would call for an end to violence, and that the US would lead an investigation into the cause of the clashes that have killed more than 100 people. Several Palestinians and at least one Israeli were wounded, however, as fighting continued across the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Bomb-making equipment was found in a house near the Yemeni port where the USS Cole was attacked last week, investigators said. They identified two men who spent "several days" there before the attack as "non-Yemeni Arabs." Two men were seen standing in a small craft bearing down on the Cole in the moments before the powerful explosion that killed 17 Americans and destroyed the attack boat. The remains of seven more sailors were recovered from the Cole Tuesday, and US officials said they still were searching for five others. Suspicion fell on Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden, who is of Yemeni descent, for the attack.

Bin Laden, meanwhile, joined senior Taliban officials in warning the US not to attack his home-in-exile in Afghanistan. The presumed terrorism-financier said any assault would miss him and vowed "no rest for the enemies of Islam." In his first public statement in 22 months, he made no reference to the incident in Yemen. But his remarks appeared to have been prompted by concern that the Clinton administration would order a strike in retaliation - as happened in 1998 after he was blamed for bombing two US embassies in Africa. The Taliban refuses to turn him over to US authorities.

Ex-President Slobodan Milosevic's Socialist Party of Serbia ceded its last hold on power, agreeing to share duties in a transitional government until new parliamentary elections are held Dec. 23. The deal, concluded after a week of negotiations, gives new President Vojislav Kostunica official control for the first time of the nation's police, courts, and news media. Kostunica later met with Milo Djukanovic, the president of Montenegro - Serbia's partner in the Yugoslav federation. Djukanovic so far has refused to recognize Kostunica's victory.

More pressure mounted against Philippines President Joseph Estrada to resign. A predecessor, Corazon Aquino, joined the growing calls for him to step down, arguing evidence that he accepted bribes from illegal gambling rings "undermine[s] the moral foundations" of society. Aquino, who came to power in 1986 after a revolt against dictator Ferdinand Marcos, also said impeachment proceedings would further damage the nation's economy. Vice President Gloria Arroyo, who last week resigned from Estrada's Cabinet, said she'd lead a united opposition against him.

A long-debated plan that would divert water hundreds of miles across China was OK'd by Premier Zhu Rongji, who described it as "a major strategic measure." The government newspaper People's Daily said the project, which would redirect water from the Yangtze River through a system of canals and reservoirs to provinces in the arid north, could begin next year but might take as many as 50 years to complete. It is projected to cost tens of billions of dollars.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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