- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 20, 2000

Queen Mum braves birthday bomb threats

LONDON Queen mother Elizabeth disregarded bomb threats yesterday and went to her 100th birthday party an outdoor pageant of singing, dancing, floats and even camels.

The hugely popular royal, mother of Queen Elizabeth II and widow of King George VI, will be 100 on Aug. 4. But celebrations began in earnest a week ago.

Early yesterday, as the last arrangements for the afternoon pageant were falling into place, bomb threats at three underground railway stations shut down extensive sections of the main transport system.

One bomb was found, and the government said it might have been the work of a dissident Northern Ireland paramilitary group opposed to the 1998 peace accord.

New young leaders of Jordan, Syria meet

DAMASCUS, Syria The new young leaders of Syria and Jordan agreed yesterday to boost relations often strained during the rule of their late fathers.

Officials said Syrian President Bashar Assad, who took office Monday, and Jordan's King Abdullah, who assumed power last year, had agreed during a meeting in Damascus to revive a joint economic commission and boost commercial exchanges.

They said Mr. Assad agreed to provide Jordan with water to help it tackle the consequences of a regional drought.

Relations had worsened after Jordan's late King Hussein signed a peace deal with Israel in 1994 which Damascus saw as a sellout.

China faces struggle against banned sect

BEIJING China's leaders are bracing for a prolonged struggle against the banned Falun Gong sect, acknowledging in an official editorial that a year of arrests, harassment and political campaigns have failed to wipe out the group.

The statement followed a burst of protests yesterday by scores of sect followers on the eve of the anniversary of a government crackdown on the Falun Gong proving the group remains a force in China despite being targeted by one of the biggest political campaigns in years.

The group's resilience was grudgingly acknowledged in an editorial to be published today in the Communist Party's flagship People's Daily. Excerpts were carried yesterday by the official Xinhua News Agency.

The fight against Falun Gong will be a "long-lasting, complicated and acute struggle," the article said.

It pledged to crack down on members with a "firm hand," according to Xinhua.

Mexico City police fired in pension-fund theft

MEXICO CITY Mexico City's government said yesterday that it had fired dozens of high-ranking police officers suspected of embezzling more than $100 million in pension funds.

The accounts office of the capital government said 39 men and two women in the capital's auxiliary police force nine chiefs, including the former head of the force, Francisco Ruiz Gamboa, and 32 commanders had been dismissed and banned from holding public office for up to 20 years.

After an investigation of more than a year, begun in 1998, the officials were charged with pocketing $122 million from the 33 percent deduction made in Mexican police salaries to fund pensions.

Serbs vow to continue protests in Kosovo

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia Serbs lifted their blockades in the northern part of this city yesterday but threatened daily protests until the United Nations frees a Serbian militant jailed for attacking ethnic Albanians.

The arrest Monday night of Dalibor Vukovic, 24, part of a group of militants who screen those entering the Serbian-controlled north bank of the Ibar River, provoked a night of rioting and a day of protests Tuesday within the largest Serbian community left in Kosovo. The unrest is happening as senior U.S. and NATO officials take a firsthand look at peace efforts.

Serbian leader Oliver Ivanovic said he would meet again with U.N. officials to try to win Mr. Vukovic's release.

Based on wire dispatches and staff reports.

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