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World Briefing - 2003-03-19


Cases or suspected cases of the ailment called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome have been reported in about a dozen countries. While global health authorities continue their search for a cause and a cure. The illness is blamed for as many as nine deaths and hundreds of infections.

In the Middle East Israeli troops have killed two top leaders of the radical Islamic group Hamas, in a military operation Tuesday in the West Bank. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Parliament approved a bill to give the new prime minister greater powers than Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat had wanted. Serbian lawmakers have confirmed Zoran Zivkovic as the republic's new Prime Minister, as a massive manhunt netted more than 750 people in connection with the slaying of his predecessor, Zoran Djindjic. The new Prime Minister was a close ally of Mr. Djindjic and has pledged to maintain his reformist policy.

In Japan Sri Lanka's Tamil rebels and their government are involved in peace talks. In related news the Sri Lankan government sunk a rebel boat last week. The attack killed 11 rebels. It was the most serious incident between the Sri Lankan government and the rebels since they signed a cease-fire in February 2002.

And here in the nation’s capital traffic around the White House has been snarled since Monday. When a man believed to be a tobacco farmer drove his tractor into a pond near the Washington Monument claiming that he has explosives. A standoff with the police continues.