News In Brief

Western mediators were being kept waiting for commitments from the government of Yugo-slavia and from leaders of Kosovo's ethnic Albanians that they'll attend peace negotiations outside Paris. Over the weekend, NATO gave the rivals one week to begin talks and two weeks to conclude a settlement or face punitive airstrikes.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority blamed each other for the passing of a key deadline in their interim peace accord, and the latter asked the US and European Union to force Israeli compliance. Under last October's Wye Plantation deal brokered by President Clinton, Israel was to complete a phased handover of 13 percent more of the West Bank by Sunday. In exchange, the Palestinians agreed to crack down on Islamic militants and to revoke a clause in their charter calling for the destruction of Israel. The clause was, in fact, revoked, but Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said last month he would not honor the deadline, accusing the Palestinians of failing to honor their other commitments.

With Angola's president assuming control of the armed forces over the weekend, his UNITA rebel enemies challenged the government to all-out civil war. In a telephone call with Western reporters, a senior UNITA commander said his forces would not return to peace negotiations until after "a long war - for maybe three years." For his part, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos said "we must make war in order to have ... peace" as he abolished the post of prime minister, leaving himself as head of government and commander of the Army as well as chief of state.

Thousands of earthquake survivors scrambled to get out of the coffee-growing center of Armenia, Colombia, dismayed by widespread looting and angry at what they perceived as disorganized government efforts to provide relief. Late last week, the government announced $315 million in assistance and said it has sent 362 tons of relief supplies to the quake zone. It also denied reports that the search for possible survivors had been abandoned.

The next installment on a $41.5 billion package of loans to Brazil hung in the balance as the country's senior economic decisionmakers met with visiting officials from the International Monetary Fund. Analysts said the IMF officials were looking for signs of progress toward economic reforms after Brazil spent the first installment in a futile attempt to prop up its currency, the real. The real has fallen 41 percent against the US dollar since it was devalued by the government Jan. 13.

Churchgoers stayed behind after Sunday services rather than risk their safety as a student protest in the streets of Nairobi, Kenya, turned violent. Scores of people were reported hurt after riot police waded into the demonstration. The incident grew out of a rally Saturday to try to prevent a forested area from being developed for luxury housing.

Bitter-cold Siberian winds, snow, and ice gripped much of continental Europe, disrupting travel, closing schools, and freezing outdoor fountains as far south as Rome. Authorities in Poland said 181 people have died because of the cold since the start of winter. Heavy snows blocked even main highways in Bulgaria as well as along Croatia's Adriatic coast.

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