News In Brief
Saying "both sides have suffered enough," new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat agreed to recommit their governments to making peace. But in their first official meeting, Barak said it would take time to put diplomacy back on track. Friday, in his first meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Barak took an unyielding position against terrorism.
"For us, there is no agreement and no cease-fire," Congolese rebel leaders said after all other parties to the country's civil war signed a peace deal over the weekend. The rebels said they'd continue their campaign to topple President Laurent Kabila. They have occupied roughly half the embattled nation since their insurrection began last August.
The top military commanders of India and Pakistan met face-to-face for the first time since the latest fighting erupted in disputed Kashmir. Details of the talks were not immediately available, but Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is to address parliament today on the matter. His Cabinet said the militant infiltrators against whom India has been fighting had responded favorably to an appeal to "help resolve the crisis" by retreating. But a spokes-man for the infiltrators said his forces had agreed only to "readjust" their positions.
Voting will begin Sept. 4 for India's new Parliament, the government announced. Balloting will continue on successive Saturdays, winding up on Friday, Oct. 1. The election was made necessary when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government collapsed in April.
Despite sweltering heat, thousands of Iranian students ratcheted up the pressure against the country's hard-line political and religious leaders with a fourth day of protests in the streets of Tehran, the capital. They dispersed without serious incident, but there were plans for more demonstrations today. The Supreme National Security Council said two senior police officials were fired and would be prosecuted for an "unauthorized" crackdown late last week on university dormitories in which a reported five people died, 20 others were hurt, and 1,000 were arrested. It followed a peaceful rally in support of press freedom.
Registration of voters for next month's referendum on autonomy for East Timor was delayed from tomorrow until Friday by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to allow for "concrete steps" that would improve security in the territory. Annan didn't mention a second postponement of the vote, already pushed back from Aug. 8 to Aug. 20 or 21, but the chief of the UN mission in East Timor said escalating violence could cause another delay. Indonesia's foreign minister and armed forces chief are due there today for what's described as a final opportunity to rein in loyalist militias who threaten to derail the referendum.
One-third of Colombia was under a dusk-to-dawn curfew after leftist rebels raided 22 towns, sabotaged bridges and power plants, and attacked troops and police across the country. The attacks were seen as a show of strength prior to the resumption of peace negotiations with the government next week. Analysts said the clashes would likely fuel new skepticism about the slow-moving peace efforts of President Andres Pastrana's government.