News In Brief

An apparent split emerged between the leaders of Britain and the Irish Republic over the inclusion of Sinn Fein in a self-rule government for Northern Ireland. They challenged Protestants and Catholics to form a self-rule government by July 15. But British Prime Minister Blair was trying to reassure Protestants that the political ally of the Irish Republican Army could be excluded if the IRA doesn't begin to surrender its weapons "within a few days." His Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, however, said "We are not talking about a possible exclusion" of Sinn Fein.

Planeloads of Russian troops were expected to leave for Kosovo today after negotiators in Moscow resolved a dispute with NATO over participation in the peacekeeping mission there. The alliance's supreme commander, US Gen. Wesley Clark, said the agreement does not provide for the Russians to expand into the Italian-controlled sector of Kosovo. But few other details were divulged. The Russian contingent in Kosovo is expected to reach 3,600 when the deployment is complete.

The "concrete steps" pledged by President Clinton and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to restore the Line of Control with rival India were greeted with scorn by the latter's political opponents and by militant Muslim infiltrators in disputed Kashmir. Indian authorities, meanwhile, said their military offensive against the infiltrators would continue until all were driven back across the Line of Control to Pakistan and no cease-fire was being considered.

A make-or-break meeting was scheduled for tomorrow between German Chancellor Gerhard Schrder and leaders of his coalition partner, the Green Party. Some Greens members vowed to quit the eight-month-old government unless a plan to wean Germany from nuclear power is speeded up. Schrder has called for a 25-year phase-out; the Greens are pressing for 5 to 10 years. Senior members of parliament said failure to compromise meant the coalition would collapse.

The first 30 Islamic militant prisoners - of thousands whose release was promised by new Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika - walked to freedom from a maximum-security jail in Algiers, the capital. As part of a peace deal between his government and a Muslim guerrilla faction, Bouteflika said over the weekend he'd pardon about 5,000 prisoners for their involvement in "soft" activities such as providing logistical support to the guerrillas. He also vowed to put his peace policy to a referendum later this year.

Victory in the most heavily populated state - but defeat in one of the smallest - were the likely outcomes for Mexico's ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) in two closely watched gubernatorial elections. The PRI candidate was headed for a win in Mexico state, which all but surrounds the capital, Mexico City, and is home to one-ninth of the nation's population. But TV networks were calling the candidate of a coalition of opposition parties the victor in Naya-rit, a Pacific coast state of about 900,000 people. Analysts look for significance in such outcomes, since Mexico is to hold a presidential election next year.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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