News In Brief

The UN Security Council unanimously approved Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a second five-year term. The 189-member General Assembly is expected to complete the election process with a vote tomorrow. The re-election of Annan, a Ghanaian, has been a forgone conclusion since he announced in March he would run and no candidate opposed him. Annan became the seventh secretary-general in 1997. His current term expires Dec. 31.

Secretary of State Powell was to push for a formal "cooling off" period between Palestinians and Israelis in meetings today with leaders of both sides. Meanwhile, disagreements over key issues marked the second meeting in Washington in three months between President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, including when to start the next phase of a fragile cease-fire. Sharon insists on a "completely quiet" 10-day period even before a formal cooling-off could begin. Bush urged him to agree that progress is being made in bringing the sides closer.

Embattled Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid renewed a warning that he'll declare a state of emergency if his political rivals insist that he account for his tumultuous 20-month rule. Wahid also said he will refuse to appear before a parliamentary session scheduled for August, which could impeach him. Under an emergency decree, he could dissolve the two main legislatures and call a new national election. The Army responded by warning Wahid not to try to save his presidency with such a decree.

Ex-spy chief Vladimiro Montesinos has offered to turn over 30,000 "potentially explosive" videotapes to Peruvian judges in exchange for favorable treatment, his lawyer said. Montesinos, who was returned home Tuesday after being arrested in Venezuela, once was the top adviser to disgraced former President Alberto Fujimori but now faces numerous criminal charges, notably corruption and money-laundering.

The World Court ruled in favor of Germany in a case involving the execution of two of its nationals by the US in 1999. The court found a violation of international law when the failed to grant consular rights to brothers Karl and Walter LaGrand, who were convicted of murdering a bank manager. Germany claimed they had been denied representation that might have saved their lives. The court ordered the US to reconsider convictions in any similar cases.

Delegates at a UN conference on AIDS agreed for the first time on a global plan to combat the disease and the virus believed to cause it. Although not legally binding, the deal calls on all governments to develop national AIDS policies and programs to reduce infection rates by 2005. An estimated 36 million people are believed to be infected with the HIV virus.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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