News In Brief

A major hospital and the residences of Sweden's, Norway's, and Spain's ambassadors to Yugoslavia were hit in the most severe NATO attacks on Belgrade since the May 7 strike against the Chinese Embassy. NATO officials refused to acknowledge that the hospital was hit, but conceded that one laser-guided bomb dropped on the capital had missed its target by 500 yards. Four people were reported killed, and many others were injured - two of them women in labor. Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh said "the strike on the hospital underscores the need for a political solution" to the Kosovo crisis.

Israeli troops could clear out of southern Lebanon within a year, Prime Minister-elect Ehud Barak said. Barak said that such a pullout, which he promised during his campaign for the post, would spring from a commitment to renewing relations with Syria, a major political force in Lebanon. Israel has occupied a so-called protection zone in southern Lebanon since 1978. Its troops stationed there and those of a proxy Army are attacked regularly by pro-Iranian Hizbullah guerrillas.

Despite new negotiations with British Prime Minister Blair, Northern Ireland political leaders voiced doubts about the future of the province's peace process. Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble, Northern Ireland's First Minister-designate, rejected Blair's revised proposal that the Irish Republican Army not disarm until next May, even if its political ally, Sinn Fein, took two seats in Trimble's government. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said last year's Good Friday accord on the province was "bogged down" and "in disrepute."

Campaigning for Indonesia's June 7 parliamentary elections opened with few signs of the violence that skeptics said they expected. In an effort to limit conflict, competing parties are limited to three rallies on a five-day rotating basis. A published survey earlier this week indicated 78 percent of respondents thought violence was likely, even though the campaign is the freest in more than four decades.

A defiant leader of the rebels fighting to oust Congo President Laurent Kabila vowed to remain in charge despite his ouster for failing to rally popular support to the nine-month effort. Ernest Wamba dia Wamba accused opponents in the rebel ranks of being interested only in war when most Congolese would be willing to negotiate for peace.

The government of the Netherlands was in crisis after Prime Minister Wim Kok's coalition quit en masse. Cabinet ministers of the right-wing Liberal Party and the left-wing Labor Party followed in resigning after the centrist Democrats 66 abruptly quit. The latter were protesting their failure to secure passage of a bill giving citizens the right to vote in referenda. The crisis was seen as especially awkward, since troops from the Netherlands are participating in NATO airstrikes on Yugoslavia.

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