News In Brief

No progress on finding a political solution to the Kosovo crisis has been made in "intensive and difficult" shuttle diplomacy by Western and Russian envoys, the latter said. Russia's Viktor Chernomyrdin and Finnish President Matti Ahtisaari are to meet with Yugoslav leader Milosevic today in Belgrade. Meanwhile, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott acknowledged in his meetings in Moscow that NATO airstrikes against Yugoslavia had strained US-Rus-sian relations.

Kosovo refugees wept as trucks began moving them deeper into Albania - a safer distance from the conflict in their homeland but also symbolically farther from an eventual return. NATO plans to transport tens of thousands of the refugees to "Camp Hope," 75 miles south of the Albanian capital, Tirana. Meanwhile, in Macedonia, another batch of 8,500 refugees was expected, prompting UN officials once again to seek the government's OK to expand temporary camps. Mostly Slavic Macedonia already holds an estimated 247,000 Albanian refugees, and the government worries about upsetting the tiny country's ethnic balance.

With opinion polls predicting an overwhelming victory in next week's election for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), opposition leaders in South Africa warned of the potential threat to multiparty democracy. An influential survey Monday showed the ANC was likely to win 65 percent of the vote - possibly more if turn-out is low - putting it within reach of a two-thirds majority in Parliament that would allow it to change the Constitution. Outgoing President Mandela said whites still have a place in South Africa, but shouldn't "hanker after the past."

An explosion deep inside one of the few coal mines that remain profitable in the former Soviet Union caught 551 workers underground near Donetsk in western Ukraine. At least 39 miners died; 48 others were hospitalized. The mine was closed for repairs, and a government commission was ordered to investigate the accident. Due mainly to outdated equipment and neglect of safety rules, Ukraine has the world's highest coal-industry fatality rate.

The urgent - but delicate - task of convincing the three parties in the Netherlands' collapsed government to rebuild their coalition was to begin. Mediator Herman Tjeenk Willink said he wanted an answer within a week because "it would not be good to have a caretaker government for eight months." Failure probably would mean new national elections this fall. The collapse has left the government with such unfinished business as tax reform and a new policy on asylum-seekers.

A $311 million plan to pump up the depressed economy of Haiti was announced by new Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis - although he said almost one-quarter of the funding will have to come via not-yet-pledged international aid. Alexis, serving in an interim capacity, has only seven months left in his term. But he said he expected some of the accomplishments of the plan to be visible by the time parliamentary elections are held this fall. The organization and carrying out of the voting also would have to come from new foreign aid, he said.

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