News In Brief

World leaders showered tributes on the late King Hussein of Jordan and dozens of them were preparing to attend his funeral today. Across the pivotal Middle Eastern nation, businesses closed for at least three days in memory of the monarch, who had ruled since 1952 when he was in his mid-teens. Among those planning to be at today's services: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose spokesman said he was specifically invited by the Jordanian government despite deep differences with Hussein in recent years over the peace process in the region.

Barely three hours after Hussein's passing early Sunday, his eldest son, Abdullah, accepted the oath as monarch before a joint session of parliament. A major general in the Army, he was designated as first in line for the throne Jan. 25, displacing his uncle, Prince Hassan. Even before the ceremony, Abdullah was being pressed by opposition leaders to set aside his father's policies and transform Jordan into a constitutional monarchy, with more freedom of the press and a public embrace of Iraq, while distancing itself politically from Israel.

The vacuum left by King Hussein makes Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak the most likely Arab leader to serve as a bridge between the two sides in the Middle East peace process, analysts said. Egypt is the only Arab country besides Jordan that has a peace agreement with Israel. And although Mubarak has been highly critical of the current government in Jerusa-lem, he has met with Netanyahu and said last week he'd be willing to do so again. He also talks regularly with Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Western mediators sought to put a positive spin on the first full day of negotiations with Yugoslav government and ethnic Albanian delegates for peace in Kosovo. The two sides were not meeting face-to-face, but mediators said both had accepted a set of principles calling for at least three more years of Serb control over the province. The parties are negotiating against a Feb. 19 deadline to sign a treaty or face punitive air strikes by NATO.

"Limited supplies" of weapons were being handed out to "civilian recruits" in East Timor by the Indonesian government, official news sources said. A senior military commander denied that the purpose was to enforce the disputed territory's integration with the rest of Indonesia, saying men between 17 and 35 were being armed only in areas that have been attacked by separatist rebels. Tensions have been high in East Timor since the government's recent offer to consider independence.

Two Pacific coast states famous for their tourist resorts were electing new governors in Mexico - in a vote considered critical to the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). The leftist Democratic Revolution Party hoped to win control of both Guerrero and Baja California Sur, the homes of Acapulco and San Jos del Cabo, respectively. But it accused the PRI of trying to buy votes by distributing food and other goods to the poor. Last year, PRI candidates won seven of 10 gubernatorial elections widely considered fair.

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