News In Brief

On the 69th day of NATO bombing, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepted the "general principles" of the Kosovo peace plan proposed by the Group of Eight countries, state-run news agencies reported. The US and NATO responded cautiously, doubtful that Milosevic was prepared to implement the conditions called for in the plan. Meanwhile, in the latest NATO strikes, 23 Yugoslav civilians were reported killed, among them patients at a sanitarium and a retirement home next door 155 miles southeast of Belgrade.

NATO reportedly deployed fighter jets at the first of two bases newly provided by Turkey for the air war against Yugo-slavia. In Germany, meanwhile, amid apparent NATO preparations for a ground conflict in the Balkans, Chancellor Gerhard Schrder ruled out his country's participation. His government is the first in NATO to refuse.

Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee accepted Pakistan's offer for diplomatic talks on the disputed Kashmir region. The announcement came as India launched its sixth day of air-and-ground attacks against supposed Islamic infiltrators on the Kashmir border. Tensions have been mounting in the region, with a high-ranking official at Islamabad's Foreign Ministry saying , "We will not hesitate to use any weapon in our arsenal to defend our territorial integrity."

In the first day of his trial for treason, Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan apologized to the families of Turkish soldiers killed by guerrillas of his Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). He appealed to his followers for an immediate halt in hostilities and said he could persuade them to surrender within three months. He is accused in the deaths of more than 29,000 people over 14 years in the PKK's fight for autonomy. Ocalan pleaded for his life, vowing to work for peace.

An estimated 100 worshippers at a Roman Catholic service in a wealthy neighborhood of Cal, Colombia, were kidnapped by suspected leftist rebels dressed in government Army uniforms. Reports said the victims were duped into believing they were being evacuated after a bomb threat. They were herded into trucks and driven to the mountainous countryside, where many of them were later released without explanation. At least 20 remained in rebel hands. The group is not believed to be affiliated with a larger force of leftists currently in peace talks with the government.

Fifty-four people died and 150 others were hurt in a stampede of rock-concert fans at Minsk, Belarus. The stampede began when concert-goers attempted to run for cover in an underground rail station as a sudden rain and hail storm descended on the city. Many of those in the crowd were reported to have been drinking alcohol. Witness-es said people outside a pedestrian tunnel continued pushing forward, not realizing that others inside had fallen.

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