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Japan Wants To Avoid WWII Ceremonies

JAPAN has asked the United States not to invite it to a major ceremony to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of World War II, a major Japanese newspaper reported yesterday.

The Asahi Shimbun said Japan took the action to avoid having to refuse invitations the US planned to send to the heads of state of its World War II allies, Asian countries, and defeated nations like Japan. The ceremony is planned for Sept. 2 in Honolulu.

UN talks begin on East Timor

FOR East Timorese, battered by a new wave of unrest in the Indonesian-run territory, United Nations-brokered peace talks beginning today in Geneva seem a very long way away.

New Year's Day riots in at least three separate towns shattered Jakarta's efforts to promote an image of fostering reconciliation inside the former Portuguese colony. Senior East Timorese figures are scathing when they talk about the Geneva meeting.

''I do not expect any substantial progress out of the meeting but I still hope the big countries will not go on treading on small ethnic groups such as the East Timorese,'' Florentino Sarmento, head of a local aid agency, said.

The foreign ministers of Indonesia and Portugal are due to begin another round of talks chaired by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali today.

Two-week truce begins in Sri Lanka

A TRUCE between Sri Lankan government troops and Tamil rebels fighting a 12-year war for independence was enacted yesterday, but without supervision from foreign peace monitors, military officers said.

''The cessation of hostilities came into force at 12 midnight on Jan. 7, but peace committees that would monitor the cease-fire would start operating probably tomorrow or the day after,'' a senior military field officer told Reuters.

The truce, the first since an April 1989 to June 1990 cease-fire, followed last week's agreement between Prime Minister Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga and Tamil rebel leader Velupillai Prabhakaran on the cessation as a step toward peace.

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