News In Brief

The Bush administration was under growing pressure to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In Washington, Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice were urged to take a more active role by visiting Mahmoud Abbas, the No. 2 leader of the Palestinian Authority, and it was announced that Powell and Yasser Arafat will meet, probably in Paris, "in 10 days' time." Egyptian President Mubarak also ratcheted up the pressure, saying without US intervention, "the situation will deteriorate further."

Meanwhile, Israeli troops appeared to be settling in for a longer-than-usual occupation of a Palestinian area in the Gaza Strip. The army seized a building offering a commanding view of both a Palestinian town and nearby Jewish settlements. That followed an Israeli admission that the shooting deaths of five Palestinian policemen in the West Bank Monday was a case of "mistaken identity." Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said he deeply regretted the incident.

The 1994 deal freezing North Korea's nuclear development program isn't being lived up to by the US and may be abandoned by the Pyongyang government, its official news agency warned. Such threats have been made before without being acted on, but this one came less than a week after the Bush administration said talks with North Korea would begin soon, raising hopes that the stalled reconciliation process on the divided peninsula would resume.

Unofficial early voting returns in the Philippines (above) gave allies of new President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo only a slim lead in their bid for control of the upper house of Congress. Of 13 seats at stake, her candidates were ahead in seven races, to five for ousted predecessor Joseph Estrada. But he enjoys wider support among the 11 senators whose seats were not contested. Analysts say a failure by Arroyo to win a convincing victory would likely embolden opponents to challenge her fledgling administration.

The field of candidates for next month's critical presidential election in Iran was narrowed to 10 by the powerful Guardian Council. All are men, although 45 women had filed nomination papers. The field is led by incumbent Mohamad Khatami, despite almost constant feuding with the nation's hard-line Muslim clerics over his reformist agenda. The others have solid conservative credentials, political analysts said, but none is seen as strong enough to beat Khatami.

A deep split opened in the ranks of Canada's leading opposition party, the Alliance, with eight key members of Parliament calling on leader Stockwell Day to resign. He refused. The Alliance was formed 14 months ago to consolidate conservatives into a bloc capable of toppling the ruling Liberal Party. But it failed to make expected gains in Ontario, the most populous province, last November, and the Liberals easily won reelection.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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