News In Brief

Signs of a new split between Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and his foreign minister emerged over violence in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside the Jewish state. Sharon went out of his way to contradict Shimon Peres, who was in Washington for a key meeting with President Bush, saying Palestinian attacks against Israeli targets "are the result of a strategic decision by [Yasser] Arafat." Peres, a Nobel Peace Prize-winner, had called the Palestinian Authority president "our partner." Sharon and Peres have long differed on how to deal with the Palestinians but have been working together in Israel's unity government for the past two months.

Almost three months after the first outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease among Britain's livestock herds, government efforts to bring the crisis under control are in "the home straight," Prime Minister Blair said. To date, 1,540 sites have been identified as having infected cattle, sheep, or hogs, and more than 2 million animals have been slaughtered. The crisis caused Blair to postpone scheduled local elections - and likely national balloting as well - from May 3 until June 7.

Protests among conservative Orthodox Christians in Greece to today's arrival by Pope John Paul II were denounced by the Athens government. The Foreign Ministry called the demonstrators a "fringe group" that does not represent Greece. The two-day visit is to be the first by a pontiff to the Orthodox-dominated nation in 1,000 years. To the protesters, however, John Paul II symbolizes the Great Schism of 1054 that divided the church into eastern and western branches. The pope also is scheduled to visit Malta and Syria on a pilgrimage to retrace Paul's footsteps

Lawyers for 22 senior officials expelled from Zambia's ruling party were asking the Supreme Court for a contempt citation on behalf of their clients. The nation's vice president, the No. 2 leader of the Movement for Multiparty Democracy, 11 members of President Frederick Chiluba's cabinet, and nine others were ousted in defiance of a court order barring such a move until judges could consider the matter. All are vocal critics of Chiluba's apparent bid for a third five-year term later this year despite a constitutional ban against more than two terms.

Authorities were trying to head off a potential international incident in Japan, where an arriving airline passenger was arrested for carrying a forged passport. According to reports, he claimed to be the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, was with a group believed to be relatives, and had hoped to visit Tokyo's Disneyland. A background check was under way. Japan and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations, and the group was expected to be expelled, probably to China.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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