News In Brief

NATO isn't ready yet to halt its air war against Yugoslavia despite agreement on a new strategy for resolving the Kosovo conflict, senior officials said. With Russia "on board" for the first time since bombing began six weeks ago, the alliance called for "an effective international civil and security presence" in Kosovo to protect returning refugees. The plan also would require a Yugoslav troop withdrawal from Kosovo, in return for an end to bombing. In Belgrade, President Milosevic was quoted as saying he'd accept UN peace-keepers in Kosovo as long as they carried no offensive weapons and no NATO troops were involved.

At the request of US Ambassador Edward Walker, Israel agreed to put off until today a key decision on whether the Jerusalem headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization will be closed. The building, known as Orient House, is in a disputed sector of the city that Palestinians claim as their future capital. Senior Palestinian leaders were warning of violent riots if Israeli police tried to enter the Orient House compound. The issue took on added significance with Israel's national elections 10 days away.

Concessions that the Clinton administration thought it had won from China on gaining admission to the World Trade Organization have been retreated from, a senior European official visiting Beijing said. Leon Brittan of the European Commission said domestic resistance to opening China's markets prompted the retreat and "a period of reflection" appeared necessary before serious bargaining over entry into the WTO can resume. After Premier Zhu Rongji's April 8 meeting in Washington with President Clinton, the administration released what it said was a list of concessions by China on commerce in agriculture, telecommunications, and other sectors.

Allowing 1.67 million eligible mainland Chinese to resettle in Hong Kong would have "unthinkable" consequences, the territory's chief executive said. Tung Chee-hwa told legislators just housing the new arrivals under a recent court ruling would cost $91 billion over the next decade. In January, the Court of Final Appeal granted residency rights to mainlanders with at least one parent living in Hong Kong permanently. Tung vowed to seek a constitutional change to block the influx.

The popular mayor of Iran's capital said his goodbyes to tearful family members and well-wishers and began a two-year prison sentence. Gholam-hossein Karbaschi, a key ally of reform-minded President Mohamad Khatami, was convicted of embezzlement last July. The Supreme Court rejected his appeal, but his original sentence was reduced by three years. His trial was widely seen as politically motivated because of the power struggle between Khatami and ultraconservatives in Iran's clerical hierarchy.

A multibillion-dollar public-works program aimed at providing jobs for 40,000 people will begin July 1, the government of Jamaica announced. The move follows rioting last month over a proposed 30 percent hike in the gasoline tax. Nine people died in the violence, which subsided only after Prime Minister P.J. Patterson cut the increase by half. A major complaint of the protesters was lack of jobs. Sixteen percent of working-age Jamaicans are unemployed.

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