News In Brief

Claims that US and Russian negotiators had agreed on key issues in Kosovo peacekeeping operations were overshadowed by the latter's insistence on its own zone - independent of NATO control. Clinton administration spokesmen said NATO was trying to establish a "zone of responsibility" for Russian troops that might be part of the sector assigned to the US, Britain, France, Germany, or Italy. But Secretary of State Albright said, "We have made it quite clear that there will not be a separate Russian sector."

"It appears that around 10,000 people have been killed in more than 100 massacres," a British Foreign Office spokesman said after reviewing reports on atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo. And, he said, "The final toll may be much worse." Meanwhile, UN refugee officials said signs indicated 30,000 Albanians were preparing to return to Kosovo in the next few days.

There can be no international aid for the rebuilding of Yugoslavia if President Slobodan Milosevic remains in power, the leaders of the US and France agreed. But on a visit to Paris, President Clinton ruled out an arrest of Milosevic for war crimes unless the latter ventur-ed into NATO-controlled territory in Kosovo.

A tax increase that was central to the new Russian government's financial-reform efforts was defeated by a 2-to-1 margin in the lower house of parliament. It would have applied to gas stations, a factor that opponents saw as an excuse to hike fuel prices as well. Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin wanted the tax as part of a broader plan to meet conditions for a $4.5 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

Efforts by a senior US envoy to explain the bombing of China's Embassy in Yugoslavia were rejected as "not convincing" by the Foreign Ministry. Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering, who traveled to Beijing to state the US case, said the two sides "may have to agree to disagree" about the May 7 attack. The White House, which repeatedly has apologized, said it hoped China eventually would understand that the bombing was a "tragic accident."

An informant who'd been on the run from the Irish Republican Army since 1991 was gravely wounded in a shooting in northern England. Martin McGartland assumed a false identity and had lived at various addresses since the IRA discovered he'd infiltrated its ranks in the 1980s at the request of British authorities. Police said "local criminal elements" likely were responsible for the attack. But in an interview in January, after the murder of another IRA defector, McGartland said the organization "never forgets [and] I know they haven't forgotten about me."

Peace negotiations that have been postponed repeatedly since April will take place next month between the rebel People's Liberation Army and the government of Sudan, the latter announced. An adviser to President Omar Hassan al-Bashir said the two sides would meet in Nairobi, Kenya. The frequent postponements allowed the "creation of a bigger chance for peace," he said. More than 1.5 million people have died in the 16-year campaign for self-determination for southern Sudan.

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