News In Brief

With 18 months left in office, Pakistan's president was fired by military ruler Pervez Musharraf, who appointed himself to the post. He also dismissed parliament. The move drew angry protest from the nation's political leaders and legal community, but was quickly recognized by rival India, where Musharraf is expected July 14 for a three-day official visit. He and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee are to discuss the dispute between their governments over control of Kashmir. Analysts said it was likely that Musharraf acted to assure himself a prominent role in government after the national election he has promised next year.

Israel will not duck out of its shaky week-old truce with Palestinians, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Cabinet decided. But the ministers also said the blockade of Palestinian communities in the West Bank and Gaza would not be lifted and that Israel reserved the right to "prevent" attacks against Jews. Sharon is due in the US next week for talks with US leaders.

If rival political leaders in Macedonia can reach agreement on achieving social reforms, NATO is prepared to send in up to 3,000 troops to disarm ethnic Albanian insurgents, the alliance said. The troops would be deployed as soon as early next month, a senior NATO official said. In the Macedonian capital Skopje, however, President Boris Trajkovski and a leader of one of the Albanian parties in his unity coalition blamed each other for a breakdown in negotiations.

A verdict that will free US citizen Lori Berenson from custody in Peru or return her to prison for 20 years was due to be announced by a judge as the Monitor went to press. Berenson (below) was convicted of treason in 1996 for her ties to the leftist Tupac Amaru rebel movement. But her life sentence was overturned last August and her case was referred to a civilian court for retrial on "terrorist collaboration" charges. A guilty verdict was expected.

Deep political crisis engulfed the government of Sri Lanka after a key ally deserted President Chandrika Kumaratunga's coalition, leaving it with less than a majority in Parliament. All 11 legislators of the Muslim Congress quit after Kumara-tunga fired their leader from his post as minister of trade. Rauf Hakeem had accused her of reneging on promises in exchange for its support. Kumaratunga's People's Alliance now has too few votes to defeat an expected vote of no confidence in her rule next month.

"We did fly yesterday, but did not drop anything," a US military spokesman said in denying Iraqi claims that 23 people were killed and 11 others were hurt when American and British warplanes bombed a soccer field north of Baghdad. British officials also issued a denial. The Baghdad government often makes such claims, maintaining that raids by Western planes patrolling the two so-called no-fly zones have caused 350 deaths and more than 1,000 injuries.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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