News In Brief
When and how to pull out of southern Lebanon were being argued by Israel's Cabinet after a weekend of new warfare and political violence in the region. Rocket, mortar, and machine-gun attacks by Hizbullah guerrillas appeared timed to affect the Cabinet debate, as public opinion in Israel has been growing against keeping troops in the so-called security zone. In an apparent first, a soldier was jailed for refusing orders to serve in the zone. Prime Minister Barak has vowed to pull his troops out of Lebanon by July.
Criticism of Hizbullah by visiting French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin made him the target of hundreds of rock-throwers in the West Bank Saturday. Jospin broke with France's Middle East policy by calling Hizbullah "terrorists," angering Palestinians who proclaimed solidarity with the guerrillas in Lebanon. He was slightly hurt. Palestinian Authority leader Yasser Arafat apologized for the incident, but West Bank students were back on the streets yesterday, burning French flags and calling Jospin a "Jew-man." The prime minister returned home to a rebuke from his political rival, President Jacques Chirac.
There are 18 sets of "counterplans" for any future attack on Taiwan by mainland Chinese forces, President Lee Teng-hui said. In an address following last week's "white paper" threatening the use of force unless Taiwan soon agreed to discuss unification, Lee also said "other people" would "speak up for us," a reference to the US. Meanwhile, a senior official in Beijing acknowledged the threat was timed to influence Taiwan's March 18 presidential election.
Over the vehement protests of opposition legislators, President Hosni Mubarak won a three-year extension of Egypt's state of emergency. A Mubarak ally said the move was necessary to combat the ongoing insurrection by Islamic fundamentalists, although violence blamed on their movement has decreased over the past two years. The state of emergency was declared in 1981 after militants assassinated Mubarak's predecessor, Anwar Sadat.
Weary helicopter crews were sent to re-rescue Mozambicans who already had been evacuated once from rising flood waters as the battered southern African nation braced for heavy new rains today. Also expected to aggravate the flooding was the arrival of surging Limpopo River water from upstream South Africa and Zimbabwe, where at least 105 people were reported drowned. More than 1 million people were said to be homeless in the three nations.
Except for reports of violence in one province, voters trooped to the polls amid calm conditions in Senegal to decide whether 19-year President Abdou Diouf should be rewarded with a new term. Turnout was heavy. Diouf was being challenged by seven other candidates in the politically stable West African state. He has promised constitutional changes if he's reelected.
The first formal agreement in 50 years was reached by negotiators from the two Koreas. Meeting in Beijing, they shook hands on a deal that would give commercial fishing boats from the South permission to work in the North's territorial waters beginning in 2005. Under the arrangement, which still must be ratified by their respective governments, profits from all catches would be shared equally. The two sides technically are still at war.
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