News In Brief

The latest round of peace talks on Kosovo appeared ready to collapse despite preparations by ethnic-Albanian delegates to sign the US-sponsored peace plan that would give their side ultimate autonomy. Serb negotiators were continuing to refuse "to make a decision for peace," State Department spokesman James Rubin said of the Paris conference, making it "clear that nothing more can be done here." But other sources spoke of extending the Serb deadline for signing the Kosovo deal until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, UN officials in Kosovo reported thousands of refugees were on the road, seeking shelter from anticipated attacks by Yugoslav Army units massing in - as well as just outside - the province.

China's reaction to the US Senate vote on deploying a national missile-defense shield was swift and blunt. The Foreign Ministry said such a system would be "of serious concern," with "a negative impact on the global strategic balance." The measure, OK'd by a 97-to-3 vote, did not specify the cost or target date for completing the system. But the Beijing government opposes so-called "theater nuclear defense" because its technology could be extended to rival Taiwan, rendering Chinese ballistic missiles useless.

In a blunt warning to members of parliament, Turkey's military chief of staff said "chaos" would result if next month's national elections were postponed. He spoke as parliament was to take a first vote on censuring Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit's two-month-old government. If the no-confidence motion were to pass a final vote next week, the April 18 election might well have to be delayed. Disgruntled legislators who were not nominated for reelection forced parliament back into session to consider the motion. They were backed by Islamic politicians who hope to use the process to repeal a law used in prosecuting Muslims for sedition.

Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi confronted a deep personal dilemma as the military government of Burma (Myanmar) appeared unlikely to grant her husband an entry visa in the late stages of what has been diagnosed as terminal illness. A government statement "suggested" the democracy activist instead travel to Britain to be with him. The couple have not seen each other since mid-1995, but aides to Suu Kyi said her return undoubtedly would not be allowed if she left.

The national state of emergency that triggered increasingly bitter antigovernment protests in Ecuador was called off by President Jamil Mahuad. He also rescinded gasoline-price increases ordered last week. But a partial freeze on savings accounts in Ecuadorean banks would remain in effect, Mahuad said.

Still more steps to repair its battered image were approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), a day after it expelled six members in the Salt Lake City bribery case. The IOC voted to establish an ethics panel with members from outside executive-committee ranks. It also decided to choose the site of the 2006 Winter Games from a field of just two finalists - and by secret ballot. And it released its first unified audit in four years.

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