News In Brief

Once NATO airstrikes "have done their job," an international force of ground troops will be sent to Kosovo, Britain's defense secretary said. George Robertson appeared to be hardening the alliance's position on the introduction of such units, although he stressed that its position on a "wholesale invasion" had not changed. Meanwhile, Yugoslav news agency reports said at least 26 people were killed or hurt when NATO missiles struck a refugee camp for Croatian Serbs in Kosovo.

The search for a new coalition government in India was in disarray as some political rivals believed to be lined up behind Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi withheld their support and began a closed-door strategy meeting. Gandhi pledged to produce proof of their backing "within two days," but leaders of Prime Minister Vajpayee's ousted coalition said they deserved the opportunity to put together a new government from the remnants of the old.

After a parting lecture to his hosts on the relationship between China and Taiwan, Premier Zhu Rongji left Canada and returned home to praise for his handling of a politically difficult North American tour. Referring to protesters outside a banquet hall in Vancouver, British Columbia, Zhu reminded his listeners that China hasn't ruled out force to regain control of Taiwan. He was followed to Beijing by assistant US trade representative Robert Cassidy, who was to try to iron out problems blocking China's admission to the World Trade Organization.

A truce agreement was signed by the pro- and anti-independence factions in East Timor, and Indonesia's military vowed to enforce it. The deal did not address the issue of disarmament, although an Indonesian loyalist leader said both sides would lay down their weapons. Meanwhile, Indonesian President B.J. Habibie told an Australian newspaper that the East Timor violence would not cause him to withdraw his offer of independence or autonomy.

As a condition for salvaging the faltering peace process, rebel forces in Colombia demanded a government crackdown on right-wing "death squads." Negotiators met for the first time since the rebels suspended talks with the government in January - a few days after they had begun - because of the murders of 160 peasants by ultrarightist paramilitaries. Two Army generals were fired and a third was suspended earlier this month by President Andres Pastrana for their alleged links to paramilitary groups.

Weary of financial hardship, protesters in Jamaica were massing for a march to underscore their anger at government-imposed increases in gasoline prices and the cost of license plates. The protesters ignored a curfew and an appeal for calm late Tuesday by Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, looting stores, erecting roadblocks, and robbing motorists who tried to pass them. One woman died in the violence.

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