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News In Brief

By CompiledRobert Kilborn and Lance Carden / March 8, 1999



Leaders of the Albanian-separatist Kosovo Liberation Army were due to consider approving the international peace plan that would grant autonomy to the restive province. The Serbian leadership of Yugoslavia has said it is willing to consider autonomy, but opposes a guarantee of its peaceful implementation by a force of 28,000 NATO ground troops.

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An emergency meeting of parliament in Bosnia's Serb sub-state was under way to consider responses to two setbacks at the hands of the international administrator for the republic. Serbs are angry at the dismissal of their newly elected hard-line president, Nikola Poplasen, and at a ruling that failed to award them control over the strategic northern town of Brcko. Poplasen was fired for obstructing the peace process.

Sinn Fein, the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, indicated it would respond positively to an invitation for talks on the latest threat to the peace accord on Northern Ireland. David Trimble, the Protestant First Minister-Designate, said he was ready to offer Sinn Fein a guarantee of immediate seats in the new self-rule administration for the province following a "positive move" on the surrender of weapons by the IRA. That was believed to mean that a timetable for beginning the handover was necessary, even if no weapons were surrendered in advance. Trimble previously had refused to set up the administration until the IRA yield-ed at least part of its arsenal.

Criminal charges were being prepared against the military chief of Cambodia's disbanded Khmer Rouge guerrilla movement. Ta Mok was captured over the weekend. UN experts have warned that Khmer Rouge leaders should be tried by international tribunals because Cambodia's own courts are not up to the task. But a government spokesman confirmed that Ta Mok's trial would be held on Cambodian soil.

For the second time in just over a month, Russian Prime Minister Primakov was publicly criticized by the Kremlin, renewing speculation that his dismissal would follow. Primakov was accused of being "complacent" by President Yeltsin's deputy, Oleg Sysuyev. Yeltsin, by contrast, "has no complacency about the government," Sysuyev said. He said Yeltsin "is very worried" about Primakov's handling of crucial negotiations with the International Monetary Fund over badly needed new loans.

The already suspended peace process in Colombia appeared in danger of total collapse after the execution-style murders of three US Indian-rights activists. The Bogot government and the State Department in Washington both said they had no doubt the Marxist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) was responsible, despite its denials. FARC broke off peace talks with the government in January, and their scheduled restart April 20 now was highly unlikely, analysts said.

Sheikh Isa bin Salman al-Khalifa, who died Saturday, was a vital ally of the US in his 38 years as emir of Bahrain. Bahrain's status as headquarters of the US Navy's Fifth Fleet was not expected to change under his eldest son, who vowed to continue the strategic island's alliances with Western powers.