News In Brief

albanian separatists in kosovo agreed to free all eight Serb soldiers they captured late last week, a senior international official said. But Knut Vollebaek of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe offered no details on the negotiations to win their release, including when they'd be handed over and whether any Albanians would be exchanged for them. Rebels in Sierra Leone demand-ed that their imprisoned leader be released into the custody of West African foreign ministers and taken abroad before peace talks with the government can begin. Foday Sankoh is awaiting execution for treason. Diplomats from Togo and Ivory Coast failed in an attempt to visit him in prison Monday and were believed to be making a similar bid yesterday. Meanwhile, the rebels were accused by peace-keeping troops of burning down "whole streets" full of houses in the capital, Freetown. UN weapons inspectors will return to Iraq, but likely with a less-obtrusive mission, their chief said. Richard Butler told a conference in Washington that all monitoring of Iraq's strategic-weapons capability has stopped, even by high-flying U-2 spy planes. He did not say when inspectors might return. Meanwhile, a US jet fired another missile at a radar site in Iraq's northern "no fly" zone. Ten points - among them a truce, economic and political reforms and a solution to the drug-trafficking problem - were proposed by Columbia's government as the agenda for peace talks with leftist rebels. But as negotiations resumed after a weekend recess, it was unclear how far the government proposal would get, since the rebels have refused to halt hostilities until 80 percent of their demands are met. Bickering over security issues threatened to end hopes for a new coalition government in Japan. Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the opposition Liberals must seal an agreement this week if they're to succeed in their aim of working together before parliament re- convenes Tuesday. But the Liberals were demanding that Japan's role in UN military operations be expanded. An LDP-Liberal coalition, many Japanese hope, could hasten the nation's economic revival. Members of Haiti's parliament were calling President Ren Preval "a dictator" after he vowed to appoint a new prime minister by decree, bypassing legislators. Lawmakers have refused to confirm any of Preval's nominees for the post, which has been vacant since June 1997, triggering a constitutional crisis and freezing foreign investment and millions of dollars in international aid. Parliament's term expired Monday, and its members' vote to remain in office until a new election can be set has angered Preval, who calls it illegal. Impoverished Honduras would welcome "macabre tourism," a senior official said. Spending by visitors fell $20 million below projections last month after hurricane Mitch battered the country in late October. But Tourism Minister Norman Garcia said "many foreigners want to see the destruction caused us" and that the government is drafting plans to attract them. The storm is blamed for more than 5,000 deaths and an estimated $5 billion in property damage.

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