News In Brief

Heavy new fighting broke out between Serb forces and ethnic-Albanian separatists in Kosovo as their respective negotiators neared today's deadline for reaching a peace accord. The clashes drove hundreds of civilians out of villages 20 miles north of Pristina, the capital. Meanwhile, near Paris, Secretary of State Albright was applying as much pressure as possible on Albanian negotiators to sign a peace deal so that the focus of diplomacy could shift to the Serbs, who were continuing to oppose a NATO peace-keeping force in the province.

Under questioning by interrogators, captured Kurdish rebel leader Abdullah Ocalan admitted that his forces received weapons and training from Greece, a newspaper in Ankara, Turkey, reported. Greece has always denied providing such support. Turkey's President Suleyman Demirel said the claim meant Greece should be classified as a state sponsor of terrorism.

Four days before the first muni-cipal elections since 1979, a supervisory board in Iran disqualified dozens of candidates, most of them widely known moderates. They were accused of having questionable loyalty to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei or "suspect records from the past." Analysts saw the move as another attempt at one-upmanship in the bitter contest between hard-liners in the government and reformist President Mohamad Khatami.

A protest by tens of thousands of farmers turned violent in Brussels, as European Union commissioners met to consider cuts of up to 30 percent in agricultural subsidies. Demonstrators threw fireworks, bottles, and street signs at police, who responded with water cannon and tear gas. Farmers were bused in from as far away as Italy to complain that such cuts would severely affect their incomes at a time when world markets were already depressed.

Recent slippage by the ruling party in Mexico appeared over as its candidates headed for victory in two state gubernatorial elections. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) held a commanding lead in Hidalgo and also seemed likely to win in Quintana Roo, where two opposition candidates were splitting much of the vote. The victories would give the PRI three in four attempts this month as it tries to build momentum for next year's presidential election.

With Carnival festivities over, government leaders in Brazil returned to the work of trying to stop the country's slide into deeper economic crisis. Financial markets were expecting President Fernando Henrique Cardoso to announce as soon as today a new round of budget cuts that would offset the damage inflicted by combined higher interest rates and last month's devaluation of the real.

Police were looking for two suspects in a shooting spree that killed one person and wounded eight others near Sydney, Australia. The incident, outside a theater and Vietnamese restaurant in Wollongong, was the third in the region in two days and one of Australia's worst incidents of violence since a gunman killed 35 people at a tourist site on the island of Tasmania in 1996.

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