News In Brief

New doubts about the possibility of a peace deal for Kosovo were raised by a demand from Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic that ethnic Albanians publicly renounce their goal of independence. Milosevic said in Belgrade that all sides in the peace negotiations outside Paris - including international mediators - must "pledge" that Kosovo will remain part of Yugoslavia.

It was unclear whether a pledge of support for Jordan's new King Abdullah by his uncle would ease concerns in the pivotal Middle East country over apparences of a split in the royal family. Prince Hassan, ousted as heir to the throne Jan. 25 by his brother, King Hussein, was notably absent as Abdullah greeted ordinary Jordanians wishing to pay their respects. Hassan had been crown prince for more than 30 years, but was dismissed by Hussein for power-grabbing and fabricating "lies and gossip."

The image of German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder took a new hit as his Green Party coalition partners refused to back down on the language of a controversial bill that would relax the country's citizenship laws. The measure is blamed for the coalition's defeat last Sunday in a key state election, and Schrder then offered to work with right-wing opposition parties to weaken it. When the Greens refused, he accused them of pursuing a too-radical legislative agenda.

US requests for the extradition of suspected terrorism-financier Osama bin Laden will not be honored, Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement said. The request was made last week in a diplomatic letter handed to a Taliban official in Pakistan. A spokesman for the movement said sending bin Laden to trial in the US or his native Saudi Arabia "will cause a lot of resentment among the whole Muslim world." The US accuses him of plotting the explosions last August that killed 263 people at American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.

The man who's expected to lead restive East Timor if it gains freedom from Indonesia was released from prison and taken to a four-bedroom government house in Jakarta. Xanana Gusmao will remain confined and under armed guard but will be permitted visitors. His release came on the heels of international pressure to help settle the bitter dispute over East Timor's political future. The separatist rebel commander had been in jail since 1993.

Victory celebrations were already under way in Syria for the reelection of President Hafez al-Assad, the only candidate on the ballot. Assad was seeking a fifth seven-year term in the balloting, which was delayed two days out of respect for the funeral and mourning period for King Hussein in neighboring Jordan. In 1991, the last election, Assad won all but 0.1 percent of the vote.

Both the president and armed forces command denied a Senate leader's claim that a coup was being planned in Paraguay. The South American nation has been in crisis since May, when presidential front-runner and ex-Gen. Lino Oviedo was sent to prison by the Supreme Court for his role in the attempted 1996 overthrow of the government. Vice presidential running-mate Raul Cubas then won the election, freed Oviedo, and has ignored the court's order to put him back behind bars.

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