News In Brief

Despite frequent aftershocks, authorities in El Salvador were trying to reassure the people of the Central American nation that no additional disasters would follow Saturday's powerful earthquake. The temblor, whose magnitude was measured at 7.6, is blamed for at least 500 deaths and more than 1,100 injuries. An estimated 11,000 people were left homeless. Other deaths and injuries were reported in neighboring Guatemala. (Story, page 1.)

A clampdown was reimposed on travel in the Gaza Strip, and the resumption of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was delayed for at least one day after a missing Jewish settler was found murdered. The settler's car was stolen and later discovered destroyed by fire. Israeli news outlets said the negotiations would begin today.

US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson failed to win any pledges of support from Arab oil nations to keep OPEC from cutting back production at its meeting tomorrow in Vienna, Austria. The cartel is expected to lower output by at least 1.5 million barrels a day. Richardson argued that the US, the world's largest consumer of oil, believes such a cut will cause prices to rise, damaging the economy. But Norway, the world's No. 2 exporter of crude and not an OPEC member, announced it would not follow suit if the cartel voted to lower production levels.

The new president of Yugoslavia was under heavy criticism from his political allies after a private meeting Saturday with his widely despised predecessor, Slobodan Milosevic. Vojislav Kostunica reportedly discussed the tense situation in Kosovo and other matters in a get-together requested by Milosevic. Milosevic is sought by the UN war crimes tribunal in The Hague for his role in atrocities by Serbs in the civil wars in Bosnia and Croatia, but Kostunica so far has refused to hand him over for trial.

Only ratification by the nation's highest court and King Noro-dom Sihanouk were needed for genocide trials of ex-Khmer Rouge leaders in Cambodia after the upper house of parliament OK'd a bill to set up a special tribunal for that purpose. It calls for a mixed panel of Cambodian and foreign judges, with the latter having veto power over decisions despite their minority status. No Khmer Rouge leader has appeared in a court of law to answer for the deaths of an estimated 1.7 million people during the communist movement's brutal 1975-79 hold on Cambodia.

Eighty-six jailed supporters of the pro-democracy opposition in Burma (Myanmar) will be allowed mail and food parcels from family and friends under another move by the ruling military junta to improve the nation's political atmosphere, reports said. State-run news outlets also were ordered to stop their verbal attacks against Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi. The gestures follow word last week of a secret meeting between the junta and Suu Kyi to establish a framework for the first public dialogue between the two sides in six years.

A political firestorm was building around Taiwan's premier for the second time in three months after the highest court ruled he should have consulted parliament before canceling a nuclear power project. The decision could force Chang Chun-hsiung to quit, analysts said. Chang argued the safety of the unfinished $5 billion plant couldn't be assured. The project is favored by the Nationalist Party, which ruled until last year and still controls the legislature. Tang Fei, Chang's predecessor, resigned last October in a move widely assumed to be linked to the cancellation.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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