News In Brief

Without saying where or when, the military government of Pakistan responded "in a positive spirit" to an offer from India for a new attempt at peace negotiations. At the same time, the Pakistanis slammed India's announcement of an end to its unilateral cease-fire in the disputed Kashmir region as "removing even the pretense of restraint." Bilateral peace talks have been suspended since before the October 1998 coup that toppled Pakistan's civilian government.

"The Chinese side has agreed" to a US proposal that a heavily damaged $80 million surveillance plane be dismantled at a military base on Hainan Island and returned to the Navy, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing said. No date was given for the return of the EP-3E aircraft, which collided with a Chinese Air Force jet over international waters April 1, triggering an 11-day diplomatic standoff. The Foreign Ministry said repairing the plane and flying it off Chinese soil "is impossible."

A major new proposal was offered by white farmers in Zimbabwe in an attempt to end months of deadlock over the resettlement of landless blacks. A group calling itself the Joint Resettlement Initiative said it would give President Robert Mugabe's government 2.4 million acres of farmland, plus equipment and technical advice. It also offered to drop all lawsuits against seizure of farms by the government. There was no immediate response. Mugabe says his resettlement program so far has turned over previously white-owned farmland to 104,000 black families.

Prosecutors charged exiled former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori with murder for his alleged role in the 1991 killings of 15 people by a paramilitary "death squad." The victims in the incident, one of the worst human-rights abuses attributed to Fujimori's hard-line regime, reportedly were mistaken for leftist rebels. Fujimori, now living in Japan, already is charged with dereliction of duty. Because of his dual citizenship, he is protected from extradition and has refused to return home voluntarily on grounds that he wouldn't receive a fair trial.

A senior newspaper executive in Spain's Basque region was shot to death, execution-style, in an attack immediately blamed on the separatist group ETA. Santiago Oleaga had been chief financial officer for a publication owned by a chain that has condemned ETA's tactics. His is the 31st death blamed on or claimed by the separatists since they ended a 14-month truce in December 1999, but the first since ETA's political wing was badly defeated in key regional elections earlier this month.

Only four months after a devastating earthquake rocked western India, the region braced for a powerful cyclone that was expected to reach land tomorrow morning. More than 10,000 residents were being evacuated from coastal areas of Gujarat state ahead of torrential rains and winds of up to 125 m.p.h. The cyclone, gathering force in the Arabian Sea, also caused authorities in neighboring Pakistan to warn commercial fishermen to return to port. On Jan. 26, a 7.7 magnitude earthquake in Gujarat killed between 20,000 and 30,000 people.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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