News In Brief

Israel's "elder statesman," Shimon Peres, was to try his hand at accomplishing a cessation of Middle East violence in a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as the Monitor went to press. Their talks were to take place amid another day of heavy fighting in the West Bank and Gaza, which killed at least five more people and wounded dozens of others.

New violence and defiance by a Catholic political leader were applying heavy pressure to the shaky peace process in Northern Ireland. In Castlewellan, 25 miles south of Belfast, two policemen were hurt - one seriously - when a bomb hidden inside a traffic cone exploded near them. Catholic "terrorists" were suspected of the crime. In Belfast, two Protestants died in what was believed to be renewed feuding between rival paramilitary groups. And the province's Catholic health minister said she'd defy a ban on attending Friday's scheduled meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council with her Republic of Ireland counterpart.

In one of the largest population surveys ever undertaken, millions of Chinese officials began collecting data on Day 1 of the national census. The government, which has not conducted a head count in 10 years, hoped to visit each of 350 million households over the next two weeks and tabulate the resulting data by February. China's population is estimated to have swelled by 130 million over the past decade - to 1.26 billion. The census will help determine the success of the government's one-child policy in capping population growth.

The new government of Yugo-slavia moved two steps closer to ending its diplomatic isolation as the Security Council recommended it be admitted to the UN and Germany decided to reestablish diplomatic relations. Germany was one of four Western nations that severed ties last year over the 1999 conflict with NATO. England, France, and the US are expected to follow suit. But Montenegro, the junior partner in the Yugoslav federation, asked the UN to consider giving it and Serbia separate representation.

Support for the anti-independence militias that marauded across East Timor last year appears to have been cut by Indo-nesia's Army, a senior UN peacekeeper said. Brig. Gen. Ken Gillespie estimated at least 100 militiamen have withdrawn from the eastern sector because of a loss of logistical support. The pro-Indonesian militias killed hundreds of separatist-minded East Timorese and forced others to seek shelter in West Timor after a referendum on independence.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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