News In Brief

Their long-running feud apparently patched up, rival leaders of the ethnic Albanian separatist movement in Kosovo said they'd agreed to form a joint negotiating team for peace talks with the Yugoslav government. A Kosovo newspaper quoted Rexhep Qosja of the United Democratic Movement as saying he had met with Ibrahim Rugova of the Democratic League of Kosovo "to make up" and join ranks "until future free elections." Qosja had refused to recognize Rugova's election last March as "president" of Kosovo Albanians in a vote that was widely boycotted because it came during a crackdown by Serb forces.

In Belgrade, the hard-line-dominated Serb parliament was bearing the full weight of international pressure as its members prepared to vote today on whether to join the negotiations. A State Department spokesman warned in Washington of "swift and serious consequences if the Serbs do not" attend the talks, beginning Saturday near Paris.

The first public offer of "high-level political talks" between the two Koreas was offered by the North's Communist government. But analysts, while calling the gesture a sign of a possible thaw in relations, said it contained conditions previously rejected by South Korea. Among them: an end to military exercises with US troops. South Korea did not immediately respond.

"Talks about talks" on a cease-fire in Guinea-Bissau brought a temporary lull in fighting between government forces and rebels seeking to topple President Joao Bernardo Vieira. A draft truce was to be presented to both sides by diplomats from neighboring Togo, which now holds the rotating presidency of the Economic Community of West African States.

At a memorial service in Cavalese, Italy, US diplomats and a Marine general joined relatives of the 20 people who died one year ago when an American fighter jet cut the cable of their gondola while on a training exercise. The ceremony took place amid demands that the US resolve wrongful-death claims so the relatives can receive millions of dollars in compensation. The first court-martial of the Marines aboard the plane opens today in North Carolina.

More than half of China's most crucial agencies and businesses have no idea how to fix or even identify anticipated Y2K computer problems, an official Beijing newspaper reported. It said that finding had come from a government survey of "focal points" that were nonetheless receiving little if any assistance in meeting the problems.

An already tolerant attitude toward prostitution in the Netherlands was eased further as parliament's lower house over- whelmingly passed legislation to legalize brothels. The measure needs only upper house approval to become law. Sponsors say the bill, which would overturn a 1912 ban on "sex clubs," should give police better control over crime and the exploitation of women. Prostitution is legal in the Netherlands, although an estimated 2,000 brothels reportedly operate outside the law.

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