News In Brief

Senior Egyptian officials were taking back a claim by President Hosni Mubarak that Israel and the Palestinians had agreed to a truce after it appeared such discussions were still ongoing. Meanwhile, violence in the West Bank and Gaza continued, although casualties were limited to seven injuries. Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, due in Washington today for talks with Secretary of State Colin Powell, said a truce would have to last at least two months before new peace negotiations could begin.

US personnel may "inspect" the badly damaged EP-3 surveillance plane that landed without prior approval at a Chinese military base April 1, the official Xinhua news agency reported. The announcement was seen as especially significant in the wake of the US decision last week to sell weapons to Taiwan. In Washington, Vice president Cheney welcomed the news but denied the US had agreed to pay compensation beyond the cost of recovering the plane.

An estimated 30,000 people gathered in Indonesia's capital to pray for President Abdurrahman Wahid before parliament meets today to consider censuring him again over two financial scandals. Fighting back tears, Wahid urged the throng not to "act rashly," although a second censure would open the way to impeachment and his removal from office. Wahid's justice minister warned of the worst violence the nation has ever seen if the censure motion passes.

With tens of thousands of his supporters already jamming Manila, jailed ex-President Joseph Estrada called for even larger protests against his impending trial by Philippine authorities on plunder and other charges. But in a taped message, he urged his followers: "Never resort to violence."

Without specifying a date, the president of Uganda said he'd pull all of his troops out of the civil war in neighboring Congo and withdraw from efforts to forge a lasting peace. Yoweri Museveni made the moves in response to a new UN report accusing Ugandans - among them members of his own family - of looting Congo's diamonds, gold, and other natural resources. Ugandan troops have aided rebels seeking to overthrow the Congo government since 1998.

An appeal for immediate peace negotiations with Tamil rebels was sounded by Sri Lanka's government after an offensive on the Jaffna peninsula in which its forces appeared to have been beaten badly. At least 213 soldiers were killed and an estimated 1,600 others were hurt. The offensive began last week as a unilateral Tamil truce expired. Rebel leaders didn't immediately reply to the appeal.

Eight members of a government security force died and six others were wounded along the Macedonia-Kosovo border in the first serious violence since an ethnic-Albanian insurgency was snuffed out last month. The casualties came in an ambush blamed on Albanian guerrillas. But a leader of the guerrilla group said his men would only have "resisted in self-defense."

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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