News In Brief

The findings of a US-led investigation into the causes of the latest Middle East violence will be responded to tomorrow, Israeli officials said. There were no hints about how the response will be worded, but a senior official said the probe under the chairmanship of former Senate majority leader George Mitchell came to conclusions "with which we do not agree." Meanwhile, Israel was under new criticism for rocketing a car in the West Bank that carried a militant suspected of attacks against Jews, killing him and a bystander.

Amid reports that China has stepped up preparations for an underground nuclear weapons test by the end of the month, a senior US diplomat is due in Beijing today to explain President Bush's proposed antimissile shield. Assistant Secretary of State James Kelly can expect little more than a polite hearing, a leading security expert said. China strenuously opposes the plan, which could erode the effectiveness of its nuclear arsenal. Ties between the two governments also are strained by China's refusal to allow a damaged US surveillance plane to be flown from one of its military bases.

Attacks on positions believed to be held by ethnic-Albanian rebels in Macedonia stopped while the republic's parliament met to OK a new national unity government. The last obstacle to the coalition appeared to fall Friday when an Albanian party slated for inclusion dropped its demand that government forces first halt their offensive.

One in every three eligible voters likely will not bother to go to the polls in Britain's June 7 national election, results of a new opinion poll showed. If accurate, that would mean the lowest turnout in 83 years. Still, the ruling Labour Party continued to hold leads of up to 18 percent in other surveys, despite perceptions that the opposition Conservatives had campaigned more effectively since Prime Minister Blair announced the election date May 8.

All five remaining criminal charges against one-time rising political star Anwar Ibrahim were dropped by prosecutors in Malaysia. No grounds for the move were announced, but observers said it appeared to be because the former deputy prime minister already is serving 15 years in prison on abuse of power and sodomy convictions. Anwar's lawyers scorned the move, saying he "feels cheated" because he has been "defamed" by the charges on which he was tried.

Bilateral relations that soured in the mid-1990s will be reactivated between Egypt and Sudan, reports said. The move covers a joint cooperation commission and all agreements suspended after Egypt accused the Sudanese government of giving sanctuary to Muslim militants who'd tried to assassinate President Hosni Mubarak.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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