News In Brief

A US-brokered truce in the Middle East seemed close to collapse after two car bombs exploded near Tel Aviv's airport and an Israeli motorist was killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank. Attacks occurred a day after three Palestinian militants were killed by missiles fired from an Israeli helicopter. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat accused Israel of a "flagrant violation" of the shaky cease-fire that took effect June 13, and UN envoy Terje Larsen said a ceasefire "will not hold."

Japanese police obtained an arrest warrant for a US Air Force sergeant suspected of raping an Okinawan woman last week. The suspect, a technical sergeant stationed at Kadena Air Base, has denied the charges. The case has sparked further opposition to the US's large military presence in Okinawa, where crimes committed by US servicemen over the years, including the rape of a schoolgirl in 1995, have enraged residents. The suspect's name hasn't been released.

A Muslim separatist group in the Philippines said it would investigate reports that its rebels saw members of another extremist group, Abu Sayyaf, moving hostages, including an American whom abductors said they beheaded. Despite Abu Sayyaf's repeated claims to have killed Guillermo Sobero of Corona, Calif., three weeks ago, soldiers in the southern Philippines still haven't found his body. Abu Sayyaf rebels are holding at least 20 people, including three Americans they seized at a beach resort May 27.

Japan may seek to revise the Kyoto Protocol in an effort to prod the Bush administration to reconsider its opposition to the global-warming treaty, a top government official said. Two days after Japan Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi met with President Bush, a cabinet spokesman said revising the pact is "possible." The 1997 agreement calls for drastic reductions in carbon-dioxide emissions and is supported by European nations. Washington has rejected it on grounds that it's unfair to US companies.

A new US envoy met with Macedonia President Boris Trajkovski, seeking to jump-start a peace plan that faltered two weeks ago. Talks occurred amid reports that ethnic-Albanian rebels had taken control of four villages northwest of Tetovo and expelled Slavic citizens they accuse of suppressing the ethnic-Albanian minority. In their four-month insurgency, rebels have demanded the Constitution be changed to guarantee ethnic Albanians equal status with the Slavic majority in Macedonia - something the government says would divide the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said his country was willing to cut its nuclear arsenal from 6,000 warheads to fewer than 1,500, so long as the process was "controlled" and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty preserved. Putin made his comments after a visit with French President Jacques Chirac in which the two leaders affirmed support for the ABM treaty. The US says the treaty is outdated and stands in the way of President Bush's proposals for a missile-defense system.

Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid admitted that he's unable to forge a political compromise that could avert his impeachment. The nation's legislature is scheduled to start proceedings against him Aug. 1 over charges of corruption and incompetence, but 7 of 10 party leaders now want impeachment hearings earlier than that. Wahid has threatened to call early parliamentary elections to break a deadlock with legislators who oppose him - a move already rejected by the security forces.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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