News In Brief

Not a single line of the proposed peace deal for Kosovo has been approved by either of the parties to the negotiations, sources on both sides said - with one week to go before the deadline for punitive air strikes by NATO if there's no settlement. As talks continued near Paris, Secretary of State Albright told French TV the decision to use force "has been made if they don't progress." If Albanian separatists are responsible for failure to reach a deal, their punishment would be loss of "the international support they depend on," she said.

As many as 10,000 ethnic Albanians converged on what's left of the Kosovo village of Racak for the funerals of 40 people found dead there Jan. 16. Albanians say the victims were civilians shot execution-style; Serbs contend they were rebels killed in battle. Burial was delayed while pathologists examined the remains to try to resolve the dispute. Their report has yet to be issued. Racak now is virtually deserted.

"We don't want to be bothered by East Timor's problem after Jan. 1," Indonesian President B.J. Habibie told the national Chamber of Commerce. He said the government wanted to concentrate on the interests of its remaining 26 provinces. Indonesia is due to hold national elections in June, but Habibie's words were another sign that restive East Timor's independence may be less than a year away.

In a rare visit to Turkey on Monday, Iraq's No. 2 leader plans to pressure the Ankara government to take away its permission for US and British jets to use the Incirlik air base, from which their jets attack his country. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was invited to come by Turkish leaders, Iraq's news agency said. Turkey said Iraq had requested the meeting.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee "is welcome to come to Pakistan on the 20th of February," the latter's Foreign Ministry said. Vajpayee plans to ride the first commercial passenger bus to cross the border in 51 years. Bilateral relations have been of global concern since India and Pakistan exploded nuclear-test devices last May. Since then, senior diplomats have held occasional meetings aimed at easing tensions, but with little outward effect.

A private investor who supposedly was to provide funds that would keep the Mir space station operating has backed out, and the problematic facility may be abandoned as soon as August, Russia's space agency chief said. Mir was due to be retired in June, but the unidentified investor reportedly would have sponsored another three years of operation at a cost of about $750 million. The cash-strapped Russian government can't afford the expense.

In a move that would have been unthinkable until recently, Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) will not rule out an alliance with political opponents in order to remain in power, a senior official said. Arturo Nuez refused to identify which rival parties the PRI leadership had in mind. Mexico is due to hold a presidential election next year. The PRI has ruled without interruption since 1929, but lost its majority in the lower house of Congress two years ago.

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