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jordan's smooth succession to a new king may be more the exception than the rule among the largely nondemocratic Arab states. The region suffers from the politics of personality, making it difficult for peace diplomacy. King Hussein, however, set an example for wise strategic decisions over his 47 years of rule. He tried to pass on his skills to his sons. His small desert kingdom is still caught between the competing interests of Israel, Syria, Iraq, and the Palestinians. Quote of note: "Personality affects [all this] conduct and behavior. Much of the credit for the peace treaty depended on how [Israeli leader] Rabin and Hussein were close for so long." - Ehud Yaari, commentator for Israel TV.

America and Europe have set up a diplomatic incubator at a 14th-century castle outside Paris to hatch a peace deal on Kosovo. The talks started on Saturday, a year after Serbia's crackdown on ethnic Albanian rebels. But there's more at stake than stopping a minor war. Europe wants to end massacres on the Continent. NATO is trying to define a post-cold-war role, as is Russia. A deal could come within two weeks.

Often taking his cue from President Clinton's policies, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is pursuing "a culture of community and inclusivity." Translation: He wants to raise up the working class to middle class, and lower the influence of the upper class. Quote of note: "Even in a benign bourgeois Britain a significant number of voters will still prefer sausage rolls to sun-dried tomatoes." - London Times.

Russia's pride in education is being tested. Many teachers aren't being paid, yet they still go to class, accepting goods from parents in lieu of state salaries. Quote of note: "We show up for work for the pupils' sake" - a Russian teacher.

- Clayton Jones, World editor

REPORTERS ON THE JOB *KING'S SUBJECTS: Amman-based Monitor correspondent Scott Peterson headed out of his home yesterday to watch Jordanians react to the death of their king. Men climbed street lamps to hang black banners in the rain. One distraught man held up two soggy newspaper portraits. Others prayed at the gates of the king's home. "We are altogether very sad, but this is [the way things are]," said Jafar, a taxi driver, a good friend of Scott's. "Everyone is watching the TV and drinking tea."

PRESS CLIPS *APPLAUDING OLD GLORY: The American flag got surprise rounds of applause from audiences attending a screening of "Primary Colors" during a film festival in the Iranian capital, reports the German news agency The reaction was interpreted as support for Iran's gradual approach toward better ties to the US.

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