News In Brief

A "tough" first day of discussions between US and Chinese representatives that made "no progress" on the return of a US Navy surveillance plane was recessed in Beijing, to be resumed today. The talks at China's Foreign Ministry lasted less than three hours. A spokeswoman for the US National Security Council said from the Bush administration's point of view the meeting could continue as long as "there is a productive discussion" on returning the surveillance plane. Above, Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Peter Verga is besieged by reporters as he leaves the talks.

Mortar shells resumed flying at Israeli targets from the Gaza Strip as soon as army units ended their brief occupation of self-rule areas there. But Israeli tanks returned to flatten a Palestinian police station because of the mortar fire. The army pulled back 24 hours after seizing the land Monday, a move that drew a strong rebuke by the US. The incursion also angered some members of Prime Minister Sharon's security cabinet, who protested that they'd been left out of the decision to stage it.

Mission controllers spent "the longest 17 minutes in our life" watching India's first placement of a communications satellite into orbit, adding the South Asian nation to the elite club of those offering commercial launches. An attempt to launch the 1-1/2-ton satellite failed March 28 when a rocket engine failed to develop enough thrust. Previously, only the US, Russia, China, Japan, and a European consortium led by France were able to launch satellites.

The most serious border clash to date between India and Bangladesh was confirmed by military sources on both sides. But India disputed claims that at least 18 soldiers were killed, most of them its own. The fight took place over a strip of disputed land on the fringe of India's Meghalaya state. The two sides frequently bicker over demarcation of the border but agreed in December to set up working groups to try to resolve the issue.

All three senior military commanders in Peru resigned in the wake of videotaped evidence that they'd secretly pledged their support to disgraced ex-President Alberto Fujimori's 1992 plan to seize dictatorial powers. The national police chief also quit. Without indicating their successors, interim President Valentin Paniagua said he would seek senior officers not involved in the scandal.

Damage-control efforts were in high gear in Thailand for new Prime Minister Thaksin Shina-watra, who was being ridiculed for his visit to a jungle cave that purportedly held a hoard of gold and bonds left behind by World War II-era Japanese troops. Thaksin took the notion seriously enough to go to the site in the hope that the treasure could help ease the nation's deep economic woes - only to fall victim to a hoax.


(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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