News In Brief

Cooperation with a US-led inquiry into nine weeks of violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was pledged by Israel's government, which earlier had resisted the probe. But Prime Minister Ehud Barak said the US had no plan to end the crisis despite President Clinton's hope of concluding a peace deal with the Palestinians before he leaves office Jan. 20. The inquiry into the violence, which now has resulted in at least 294 deaths, is expected to begin in about two weeks.

An emergency meeting of the National Security Council was being considered in Chile amid rising political tensions over a judge's order of house arrest for ex-dictator Augusto Pinochet. Magistrate Juan Guzman Tapia ruled that Pinochet must stand trial for kidnappings connected to the 1973 "Caravan of Death," in which Army troops roamed Chile in helicopters, allegedly executing 72 opponents of his hard-line rule.

Rebels of the Zapatista movement in Mexico's impoverished Chiapas state said they were ready to resume peace negotiations with the national government for the first time since 1996. The move, announced by Zapatista leader Subcommandante Marcos, followed a promise by new President Vicente Fox to submit legislation to Congress tomorrow that would guarantee the rights of Mexico's indigenous people. Fox also ordered roadblocks in Chiapas torn down and Army troops in the region back to their barracks.

A protest demonstration scheduled for today by supporters of Ivory Coast opposition leader Alassane Ouattara was banned by the Interior Ministry. The rally was called after Ouattara was banned late last week from running in next Sunday's parliamentary election - the second such ruling against him in two months. In October, at least 100 people died in street fighting after he was excluded from the ballot for president.

Tensions were running high in Guinea-Bissau three days after Army troops found and killed ex-junta leader Ansumane Mane. He had been on the run since attempting a mutiny and proclaiming himself military chief last month. In 1998, he led the overthrow of President Joao Bernardo Vieira and later served as copresident of a government in transition back to civilian rule. But analysts said Mane found it hard to adjust to nonmilitary leadership. No government officials attended his funeral Friday, which brought out thousands of angry Muslims, the largest of Guinea-Bissau's minorities.

Another victory appeared likely for controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as voters went to the polls for the seventh national referendum since he came to power in 1998. If it passes, the measure would suspend trade-union chiefs, who've been among his leading opponents, for 180 days, until rank-and-file members can elect new officers. The referendum has drawn vehement protests and threats of trade sanctions from international labor groups.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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