News In Brief

No major breakthroughs were announced by Secretary of State Powell after a day of meetings in Beijing with senior Chinese leaders. But Powell said China is attempting to put relations with the US "back on the right track" by easing the aggressive pursuit tactics that led to the April 1 midair collision between a Navy surveillance plane and a Chinese jet fighter. The two sides also agreed to discuss Chinese missile-technology exports and human rights.

Citing possible dangers to human health, a court in Colombia ordered an immediate halt to the aerial spraying of the country's vast coca acreage. There was no immediate word on whether President Alan Pastrana's government would honor it. The spraying program, into which the US is pouring more than $1 billion, is at the heart of the anticocaine offensive known as Plan Colombia. The ban was sought by indigenous groups claiming that the use of the herbicide glyphosate sickens nearby residents and kills legal crops.

Little progress was apparent as negotiators for the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanians resumed talks on a settlement that would grant the latter more rights. The sticking point: a provision to make Albanian an official language. The parties also had yet to begin considering a proposal to let Albanians choose their own police at the local level.

Exit polls showed the ruling coalition had won at least 63 seats up for grabs in Japan's upper house of parliament - and possibly as many as 84, a major boost for new Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. The showing by candidates representing his Liberal Democratic-led three-party coalition, was expected to ease the way for his stern austerity plan.

Release of the eagerly awaited proposals for ending the deadlocked peace process in Northern Ireland was postponed until at least tomorrow. The bluepint, drawn up by the British and Irish Republic governments for presentation to the province's main Protestant and Catholic political parties, was to have been ready last Friday but was delayed by fine tuning.

To devote full time to medical treatment for cancer, Bolivian President Hugo Banzer will resign next week, an aide said. Banzer planned to travel from a Washington hospital for Independence Day ceremonies Aug. 6, hand power to Vice President Jorge Quiroga, then return to the US. Quiroga, a Texas-educated economist, will be ineligible to seek the presidency in his own right when Banzer's term expires next year, however.

(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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