News In Brief

There is no "lifeline" for ethnic Albanian refugees still inside Kosovo, and only by continuing to bomb Yugoslav targets can NATO help their cause, British Prime Minister Tony Blair acknowledged. Visiting NATO headquarters in Brussels, he said the alliance was "deeply worried" about the estimated 850,000 such civilians who've been driven from their homes "simply because of their ethnic identity" - since they cannot be protected from murder, rape, and other war crimes. In Washington, the State Department said at least 100,000 - and possibly as many as a half-million - Kosovo Albanian men are unaccounted for. A 15-mile-long refugee convoy headed out of Kosovo's capital reportedly has not been seen since last weekend,

The government of neighboring Macedonia was again stranding thousands of fleeing Kosovars at the border as UN camps inside the country were declared full beyond capacity. The UN also said it had been denied permission to open two more camps and local landowners were refusing to lease additional ground to expand an existing facility.

Claiming it now had enough support, India's Congress Party was expected to inform President K.R. Narayanan of its readiness to form a new coalition government. A Congress official said letters of support from other parties to constitute a majority in Parliament could be supplied as soon as today. First, however, Narayanan wants Parliament to vote on the proposed fiscal 1999 budget.

Following the latest violence in East Timor, Indonesia's armed forces chief flew to the troubled territory for a first-hand assessment. Analysts saw Gen. Wiranto's visit as an indication that the military was leaning toward a partition of the former Portuguese colony - with itself as a buffer between anti-independence loyalists and those who favor separation from Indonesia. As many as 30 more separatists died in two days of fighting over the weekend. President B.J. Habibie's Cabinet approved a 60-point autonomy plan Monday, considered a key step toward the scheduled UN referendum on East Timor's future in July.

In a new attempt to draw attention to their cause, political dissidents in China appealed to the general public to support a passive show of mourning for people killed in the Tiananmen Square antidemocracy crackdown. An open letter asks ordinary Chinese to mark the 10th anniversary of the June 4, 1989, incident by using candles instead of electric lights, refusing to answer telephones, passing up all forms of entertainment, and wearing plain clothing, the traditional mourning dress. A government spokesman wouldn't comment on the plan, but analysts said it confirms a major concern of the leadership: that activists might use the anniversary to stir up public sentiment at a time of growing unemployment.

Hopes that last week's military takeover in Niger would be brief were buoyed by the announcement that elections for a civilian president and a new parliament have been scheduled for November. Junta leader Daouda Malam Wanke said he'd turn over the government Dec. 31 and would remain a soldier. The Army stepped in after President Ibrahim Bare Mainassara was assassinated April 9.

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