News In Brief
Only bleak projections for progress at today's emergency Middle East summit were being offered by Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Israel said its only goals were an immediate end to violence and a mechanism for preventing new hostilities. Senior Palestinians dropped their demand for an international inquiry into the violence that has killed 100 people, but said they "really encourage people not to have high expectations." The Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt, meeting is to be attended by Prime Minister Barak, Palestinian leader Arafat, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, King Abdullah II of Jordan, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, President Clinton, and possibly Russian President Vladimir Putin.
"Dozens of suspects" have been rounded up for questioning in the aftermath of last week's explosion aboard the US Navy destroyer Cole in Yemen, authorities said, although they repeated denials that "terrorists" operate there. Meanwhile, US investigators, engineers, and salvage experts paused in their work as the remaining crew members aboard the Cole held "a very private" memorial service for the 17 people killed in the apparent suicide attack.
In a nationally televised speech, embattled Philippines President Joseph Estrada apologized for the growing political scandal threatening his hold on power. But he vowed "never" to resign despite allegations that he accepted $8.7 million in payoffs from illegal gambling syndicates. Opposition leaders said they'll file an impeachment motion against him in Congress Wednesday and claimed enough votes to force a formal inquiry.
A 30-day truce was agreed to by coca farmers and Bolivian authorities, clearing the way for the removal of roadblocks that have hobbled the \ economy and caused at least 10 deaths. The government did not agree to demands that it end its coca eradication program but did pledge $80 million in economic development funds for, and agreed to halt construction of military bases in, the main coca-growing region.
Heavily armed troops escorted new President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan into Somalia's capital to assume the reins of the first central government since 1991. The show of force kept rival clan factions from fulfilling vows to block Salad's takeover. Analysts said his first priorities would be setting up an effective national police force and rebuilding the educational system. Years of clan violence have destroyed schools and chased away up to 7,000 teachers.
Despite the signing of a deal to end two years of ethnic fighting in the Solomon Islands, operators of key businesses said they wouldn't reopen until they were satisfied it was holding. Malaitan and Isatubu leaders OK'd the accord after intensive negotiations brokered by Australia. It provides for new economic aid to the island of Malaita and an internationally supervised surrender of weapons by both sides. The violence over access to land and jobs in the capital, Honiara, caused 70 deaths and the collapse of the economy.
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