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News Briefs

Mubarak Suggests Meeting Between Sharon, Arafat


On the eve of a meeting with President Bush, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak Monday proposed a summit between Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to jump-start stalled Middle East peace talks.

In outlining his proposal, Mubarak also said Sharon had asked him to arrange a meeting with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah.

Sharon wanted the meeting for Abdullah to clarify a peace proposal he floated last month in which Saudi Arabia would normalize relations with Israel if the Jewish state withdraws from territories it captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Mubarak, in an interview with CNN, said he asked Sharon to come to the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm-el Sheikh to meet with Arafat to work on ending 17 months of violence that has claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis and Palestinians.

Mubarak stressed the meeting would not offer a permanent solution to the violence but would “give the impression to both parties -- to the people on both sides, to the people in the Arab world -- that there is a window of hope.”

FBI Wants to Compile DNA Of Terrorism Suspects


The Justice Department is considering an FBI plan to compile a computer database of DNA samples from suspected terrorists detained by the United States, and to store those records with genetic data from convicted criminals in the United States, officials said Monday.

Attorney General John D. Ashcroft said the government is “going to take every reasonable step to make sure that we identify those individuals who have been involved in the terrorist effort against the United States,” including the collection and analysis of blood and hair samples taken from prisoners in Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Ashcroft said Justice officials have not decided whether that data should be assembled as a part of the National DNA Index System, which is administered by the FBI and currently includes samples from more than 830,000 convicted criminals.

Ashcroft, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and other law enforcement officials say genetic profiling could help identify captives now in U.S. custody and determine whether they are linked to other crimes.

Governor Considers Commuting All Death-Row Sentences


Illinois Gov. George H. Ryan said he is considering whether to commute the sentences of all 163 inmates on the state’s death row.

The moderate Republican acknowledged the possibility during a recent symposium, a disclosure that adds to this state’s roiling debate over the death penalty. It comes as an Illinois commission he appointed is poised to release recommendations on what to do about the state’s death penalty.

The 68-year-old governor imposed a moratorium on executions in January 2000. Ryan, who approved Illinois’ last execution in March 1999, ordered the moratorium after several inmates condemned to die were found to have been falsely accused.

Ryan described events leading up to that decision and his evolving views on capital punishment in a speech last weekend at a University of Oregon law school symposium. He cited statistics showing that since Illinois reinstated executions in 1977, 12 people have been executed while 13 death-row inmates were exonerated by the courts.