News In Brief

CIA chief George Tenet planned to resume meetings with Israeli and Palestinian security officials to discuss implementing a US-brokered truce the two sides accepted, although with strong reservations. The plan has raised the prospect of ending nine months of fighting, but it asks the Palestinian Authority to collect illegal weapons, locate bomb factories, and avoid helping militants plan attacks. Israeli troops would have to withdraw to positions they held before the outbreak of the fighting.

China has a "decent likelihood" of joining the World Trade Organization by the end of the year, a senior US official said. His comments followed a reported deal in which China agrees to restrict agricultural subsidies and further open its market to foreign insurers and retailers. The agreement ends the last of many disputes that had stalled a final deal between China and the US since the landmark bilateral trade agreement in 1999. If China's bid is accepted at a meeting of WTO members June 28, the Beijing government could join by November.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid authorized prosecutors to investigate corruption charges against lawmakers who want to impeach him for graft. Attorney General Baharudin Lopa said he plans to question parliament Speaker Akbar Tandjung, a top official of the Democratic Party of Struggle headed by Vice President and Wahid rival Megawati Sukarno-putri, and at least one other legislator before the assembly convenes in August to consider impeachment.

Four days of heavy rains in Ecuador triggered a series of landslides killing at least 36 people and rupturing the country's only oil pipeline. The split caused a spill of 10,000 barrels of crude. At least 400 homes were reported destroyed and searchers were trying to find 60 missing people.

Hundreds of workers were forced to walk to their jobs after Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe's government raised gasoline prices by 72 percent, sending public transportation costs soaring. Fuel prices have tripled over the last 18 months. The move worsened the nation's economic crisis, and analysts said it raised the likelihood of civil unrest as the largest labor unions threatened to strike. Inflation already runs at around 70 percent in Zimbabwe.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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