News In Brief

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ruled out a three-way meeting among visiting UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and his own foreign minister, setting off the first loud disagreement in his "national unity" government. Israeli TV later reported that Sharon and Foreign Minister Shimon Peres set their differences aside, with Peres gaining the freedom to set up such meetings if violence between Palestinians and Israelis continues to ebb. Sharon has insisted he would not start the clock on a six-week "cooling-off period," a precursor to peace talks, until attacks on Israelis stop.

In its first response to a US proposal to resume stalled talks, North Korea rejected a call to discuss its military and missile program and insisted that compensation for economic losses caused by a delayed nuclear-power project must top the agenda. Its military, the world's third-largest, will not be discussed until some 37,000 US troops leave South Korea, the Pyongyang government said. North Korea alleges that the US failed to stick to a 1994 deal to complete two power-generating light-water nuclear reactors by 2003. The US says the date isn't fixed.

As Philippine President Gloria Arroyo visited the front lines of the country's hostage crisis vowing to hunt down the guerrillas, their leader said he'd negotiate the release of some of the 24 people in his custody. But his conditions included one Arroyo was likely reject: an immediate end to the military's pursuit. Meanwhile, government officials said they strongly suspect the rebels killed US captive Guillermo Sobero but still could not say for sure.

Police killed 11 protesters in the Indian state of Manipur and issued orders to fire at anyone violating a curfew imposed after a mob set fire to the state legislature building and the homes and offices of leading politicians. At least eight lawmakers were beaten or burned in the attack in Imphal, Manipur's capital. The violence erupted during protests by opponents of a truce between the Indian government and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Manipur, a separatist group. Manipur has been under federal rule since May when its ruling party lost a vote of confidence.

In the largest mass prison escape in recent history, Guate-malans took advantage of visiting hours Sunday to smuggle assault rifles into a maximum security prison near the capital, Guatemala City. Some 75 prisoners then shot their way out. Some inmates hijacked a bus and took its 14 occupants hostage, while others hijacked cars on a nearby highway to make their escape. Three prisoners were killed but most of the others were still missing as hundreds of police and soldiers combed the countryside in search of escapees.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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