News In Brief

Senior NATO field commanders and Yugoslav generals met to discuss details for a complete Serb pullout from Kosovo. NATO said the Serbs would be given seven days to withdraw and that bombing would stop only after verification of the pullout over 24 hours. Plans called for NATO troops to enter the province "immediately" to prevent the creation of a vacuum that could deter ethnic Albanians who chose to return to their homes.

As many as 130 million voters are poised to take "a leap into the unknown" in Indonesia, whose national election today is being called the freest in 44 years. They will choose 462 members of parliament in only the second open ballot since independence was achieved in 1955. All others since then were rigged to ensure victory by government-backed candidates. The big winner is expected to be the Democratic Party for Struggle of opposition leader Mega-wati Sukarnoputri. The ruling Golkar Party, which took 70 percent of the vote in the last election, was attracting as little as 10 percent support in some opinion polls.

It was not "convenient" for a visit to New Delhi by Pakistan's foreign minister, the Indian government said as hostilities in Kashmir intensified. Sartaj Aziz hoped to meet Indian officials today to seek an early end to the fighting, but was told that alternative dates would have to be discussed. Meanwhile, Indian jets resumed bombing after a day's pause to allow infantry units to move closer to the armed intruders who've set up positions on the Indian side of the disputed boundary.

Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza reacted angrily to reports that their economic benefits would be canceled by incoming Prime Minister Ehud Barak. That plan is subject to change as he forms alliances with opposition parties in parliament, but a published draft of his policies said "existing Jewish communities" in those areas "will not enjoy special status in the distribution of resources" except for security needs. Among those resources have been tax benefits, cheap land, and low-interest mortgages. One settler spokeswoman called the move a "complete contradiction" to Barak's call for national unity.

Butcher shops across Belgium were closing, supermarket meat counters were empty, and hundreds of farms were sealed off as the nation looked for ways to cope with Europe's worst food scare since the "mad cow disease" alarm of 1996. A ban on the sale of locally produced poultry, eggs, dairy products, and fatty meats remained in effect, with no hint when it might end. The scare began last week with reports that dioxin-laced fat was used to make animal feed - but how much and which farms might have fed it to their stock hadn't been determined. Dioxin has been named a carcinogen. The issue took on added significance because of next week's national election.

The last of 2,500 refugees who'd fled paramilitary "death squads" in Colombia last week were to be sent home by neighboring Venezuela. But border authorities cautioned that the exodus "could happen all over again" if conditions in eastern Colombia worsened. Colombian officials said the situation there was under control and that rumors of massacres by the paramilitaries were unfounded. But the exodus across the border reportedly was the largest during three decades of civil war.

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