- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2001

Sharon widens lead over Barak in poll

JERUSALEM Israeli right-wing leader Ariel Sharon is a record 28 percentage points ahead of incumbent Ehud Barak in the race to be prime minister, according to a poll published yesterday.

The same Gallup poll taken last week gave Mr. Sharon, head of the Likud Party, a 21-point lead.

The survey found that 50 percent of Israelis plan to vote for Mr. Sharon in the Feb. 6 election; 22 percent for Mr. Barak, candidate of the Labor Party; with 28 percent undecided.

Pinochet defies court on medical tests

SANTIAGO, Chile Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet refused yesterday to submit to medical tests and an interrogation ordered by a judge seeking to put him on trial for murder and kidnapping, one of his attorneys said.

"The Pinochet family has followed the advice given by the legal defense team" to ignore the order from Judge Juan Guzman Tapia, said Pinochet lawyer Jose Maria Eyzaguirre.

Mr. Pinochet's attorneys argue the judge was wrong to schedule a deposition for the defendant immediately after his medical tests and said the general should be deposed only after the results of his tests became known.

Holbrooke lands post in think tank

UNITED NATIONS Richard C. Holbrooke, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will join the Council on Foreign Relations and write about the relationship between Washington and the world body, his office announced yesterday.

Mr. Holbrooke, who was expected to be secretary of state had Vice President Al Gore won the presidential election, will serve as a scholar-in-residence to work on foreign policy issues at the New York-based think tank.

Colombian envoy flies to rebel enclave

BOGOTA, Colombia A government envoy flew into a rebel-held southern enclave yesterday on a widely watched mission that could decide the fate of peace negotiations to end Colombia's 36-year conflict.

Presidential peace commissioner Camilo Gomez was investigating charges that rebel guerrillas assassinated a prominent congressman last week. Mr. Gomez was meeting with rebel leaders, including Manuel Marulanda, the aging founder of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

The Dec. 29 assassination of Diego Turbay, who headed a congressional peace committee, has unleashed heated calls for President Andres Pastrana to suspend or alter the course of peace talks with the FARC.

Suspects caught in Swedish art heist

STOCKHOLM, Sweden Police have arrested four men in the theft of three Renoir and Rembrandt paintings from Stockholm's waterfront National Museum, but the precious artworks remain missing, authorities said yesterday.

The paintings were taken from the museum on Dec. 22. A man walked into the state-run museum five minutes before closing time and pointed a submachine gun at an unarmed guard while two persons already inside snatched the paintings off the walls.

The suspects are all Swedish citizens, and authorities said more arrests may be made in the case.

Opposition group travels to China

TAIPEI, Taiwan A group of opposition Taiwanese lawmakers left for an unofficial visit to China yesterday with plans to talk to Chinese officials about opening direct transportation and trade links between the sides.

The group included 29 legislators with the once-ruling Nationalist Party. A smaller group of lawmakers from the pro-reunification New Party also left for China yesterday. During their trip, the legislators plan to meet with officials in Beijing.

Yesterday's trip came just two days after Taiwan lifted a ban on direct shipping between two outlying Taiwanese islands and China. The ban on direct links between the rest of Taiwan and China remains in place.

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