News In Brief

Yugoslav President Milosevic now would support a proposed international peace force for Kosovo, Deputy Prime Minister Vuk Draskovic said. In Belgrade, the political maverick and former opposition leader admitted he hadn't discussed the matter directly with Milosevic. But he repeated assertions that Milosevic had agreed to such a force during a meeting with a visiting Russian envoy. Milosevic's refusal to allow international troops in Kosovo caused peace talks to collapse last month.

Perhaps the first serious estimate of how much reconstruction of the Balkans will cost - $30 billion - was presented to financial experts from the Group of Seven industrialized democracies. But G-7 delegates, meeting in Washington with representatives of governments caught in the Kosovo turmoil, the UN Human Rights Commission, and donors such as the International Monetary Fund, said it was too early to begin in-depth planning for recovery while hostilities continue.

UN police will be sent to East Timor "to act as advisers" as part of the peace plan for the volatile territory, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie announced. He said a referendum on Timorese independence will be held Aug. 8, over the objections of loyalists who don't want to separate from Indonesia. His announcement appeared to be a definitive signal that 24 years of control over East Timor, which has brought the Jakarta government little but international criticism, were near an end.

Two weeks after being sentenced to prison for corruption, the former No. 2 political leader in Malaysia was arraigned on a separate charge of sodomy. Anwar Ibrahim pleaded not guilty. If convicted, he could face 20 more years behind bars and a flogging. His April 14 conviction and six-year sentence caused violent street riots by thousands of supporters.

Signaling that famine will likely be a major problem again this year in North Korea, the World Food Program reported that the Pyongyang government had distributed the last stocks from the 1998 fall harvest and would turn to "stomach fillers" that have little nutritional value. Those substitutes - edible roots, grasses, ground corn stalks, and seaweed - must serve the communist nation's 23 million people until June, when the first summer potato and vegetable crops are harvested, the agency said.

Rebels fighting against the government of Sierra Leone were challenged to take their campaign into the political arena - in elections to be held by August 2000. President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah issued the challenge a day after the Revolutionary United Front declared its wish for a truce with the government as soon as possible.

A onetime low-ranking Gestapo agent who retracted an earlier confession that he'd shot 500 people at a Nazi concentration camp appeared before a court in Stuttgart, Germany. Alfons Goetzfried is charged with assisting in the execution of 17,000 Jews in 1943 at Majda-nek, Poland. His trial may be the last of its type in Germany for the Nazi era, due to lack of evidence, prosecutors said.

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