News In Brief

Senior Palestinians rejected a "declaration of principles" based on President Clinton's proposals for further Middle East peace negotiations and claimed Sunday's marathon meeting with Israeli security officials and CIA chief George Tenet was a failure. Hopes for a final solution based on Clinton's plan were dealt another hit when a Muslim cleric decreed that Palestinian negotiators may give up no part of a Jerusalem shrine contested by both sides. (Opinion, page 9.)

The hunt was on for suspects following a reported coup attempt in Ivory Coast, apparently by disaffected soldiers in civilian clothes. The power grab, which was put down by loyalist troops, targeted the state broadcasting facilities, the home of new President Laurent Gbagbo, and government installations. At least six people died in the violence, and "many" others were reported hurt.

Whether the heavy use of depleted uranium (DU) ammunition against Yugoslavia poses an ongoing threat to human health was at issue in high-level meetings across Europe after seven countries reported deaths or serious illnesses among troops who served there. Portugal began medical tests on 10,000 of its personnel, although German officials said they saw no reason to conduct such exams. The US has admitted firing at least 31,000 DU rounds during the campaign against Yugoslavia in 1999 and in Bosnia between 1994 and 1995.

Journalists were barred from the opening of new negotiations in Geneva aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the strife in Indonesia's Aceh province. But senior Indonesian officials said they were "pessimistic" about the outcome because Aceh's separatist negotiators had set "a fixed price: freedom," which is not an option. A seven-month truce in Aceh ends next Monday. Both sides say there's little hope of extending it.

Anyone who converts or is caught trying to coax others to convert from Islam to another faith will be executed, Afghan-istan's Taliban militia decreed. The ruling is the latest by the fundamentalist movement, which enforces an especially harsh interpretation of Islamic law. Some earlier decrees stop all schooling for females at age 8 and ban most forms of entertainment. So far, non-Muslims haven't been stopped from practicing their faiths in the 95 percent of Afghanistan that the Taliban controls. (Story, page 7.)

Stoves taken from Army warehouses were made available to thousands of Russians trying to cope with temperatures as low as minus-70 degrees F. The problem was worst in the Far East and Siberian regions, where municipal heating plants broke down because of chronically poor maintenance and low fuel supplies.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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