- The Washington Times - Monday, June 4, 2001

Lebanese army fires at Israeli warplanes

BEIRUT — Lebanese anti-aircraft guns opened fire yesterday on Israeli warplanes on a reconnaissance mission over Lebanon, Lebanese officials said.

The shooting — which was denied by Israel even though reporters heard the gunfire — was the first response to such overflights since Israel´s withdrawal from southern Lebanon a year ago.

Fighter jets were seen flying at medium altitude over southern Lebanon and the Bekaa Valley yesterday morning and early afternoon. The Lebanese army opened fire from anti-aircraft batteries dotting the area but did not hit any aircraft, according to Lebanese security officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The jets reached as far as Beirut in central Lebanon, some 120 miles from Israel, and were audible on the ground.

Huge crowds view John XXIII´s new coffin

VATICAN CITY — Admirers of John XXIII stood in line for hours in St. Peter´s Square yesterday for a close look at his new, see-through coffin, part of a tribute to the "good pope" on the anniversary of his death ordered by the current pontiff, John Paul II.

The "good pope" was a nickname fellow Italians gave Angelo Roncalli, the son of northern farmers who grew up to be a priest, Vatican diplomat, cardinal of Venice and finally pontiff from 1958 to 1963.

He paved the way for innovations such as celebrating Mass in local languages instead of Latin, as well as greater tolerance for Jews and others outside of Catholicism.

Yesterday, exactly 38 years after his June 3 death from stomach cancer, his new coffin was wheeled through the square on a bed of yellow and red roses. Many among the 40,000 worshippers blew kisses, clapped or made the sign of the cross.

South Korea offers to open key waterway

SEOUL — In a major conciliatory gesture, South Korea said yesterday it will open a key waterway to North Korean commercial ships if they seek permission in advance to pass through it.

The decision came hours after the Seoul government allowed three North Korean commercial cargo vessels to sail out of the narrow channel between South Korea´s mainland and its southernmost island of Jeju after violating those South Korean territorial waters for more than eight hours over the weekend.

The gesture reflects reduced tension on the divided Korean Peninsula following a historic inter-Korea summit a year ago.

Macedonia bombards rebel-held village

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonian helicopter gunships yesterday mounted a fresh attack on Matejce, a village partly controlled by ethnic Albanian rebels, as the country´s president tried to paper over cracks in the fractured national unity government.

Col. Blagoja Markovski said the Macedonian army would use "all possible means" to retake the village, where the army has fought a series of inconclusive battles every day for the past week.

The standoff around Matejce is said to be symptomatic of the government´s ineffectual military response to the determined but lightly armed guerrillas of the self-styled National Liberation Army.

Rumsfeld to inspect no-fly policy in Iraq

Donald H. Rumsfeld is starting his first extended trip abroad as defense secretary with a firsthand look at the U.S.-British air patrols over northern Iraq.

The flights to enforce a "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq are made from Incirlik Air Base in south-central Turkey, where Mr. Rumsfeld plans to talk today with U.S. commanders and air crews.

The Bush administration is reviewing all aspects of U.S. policy toward Iraq, including the no-fly-zone enforcement that began shortly after the Gulf war ended in 1991. U.S. military commanders have suggested cutting back on air patrols, which often are targeted by Iraqi air defense guns and missiles.

Mr. Rumsfeld was scheduled to meet today with Turkish government officials in the capital, Ankara. His schedule also included a stop in Kiev, Ukraine, to sign a joint protocol extending a formal cooperation agreement.

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