News In Brief

Russian soldiers were arriving in Kosovo to take up peacekeeping duties that will allow them access to the sectors patrolled by the US, Germany, and France - in addition to control of the province's main airport. But their freedom to operate throughout Kosovo would be limited, NATO said, to prevent eventual partitioning of the province because of the close ties between Russia and Serbia. The Russians' presence was seen as a relief to Kosovo Serbs, against whom returning ethnic-Albanian refugees have been seeking reprisals.

Only a week's worth of funds for the repatriation of Kosovo refugees remains, UN officials said. Of the $389 million budgeted, just $155 million has been contributed by participating governments, they said. High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata appeal-ed for worldwide pledges of aid. Her agency estimates 606,300 displaced Kosovars have returned home. But it called for the return of ethnic-Albanian professionals as soon as possible "to rebuild society."

A vote of confidence in parliament and his oath of office were the final orders of business before Israel's new head of government assumed power. Prime Minister Ehud Barak said pursuing peace negotiations with Arab leaders would be his first priority and greatest challenge. News reports said the Israeli Army was expecting an order from Barak for a 13 percent withdrawal from the West Bank. That was agreed to last October by predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu but later suspended.

A convoy of Indian oil tank-trucks took a direct hit from Pakistani artillery as indications continued to show no letup in the fighting over disputed Kashmir. Hopes for an end to the two-month-old clashes were raised by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's weekend meeting in Washington with President Clinton. But Pakistan's Army chief suggested that Muslim infiltrators could refuse to withdraw across the Line of Control with India despite Sharif's agreement for a pullback.

Pressure mounted against the political ally of the Irish Republican Army to obtain an arms-surrender statement from the guerrillas if it wants to participate in a self-rule government for Northern Ireland. The province's main political party representing Catholics said it would back the exclusion of Sinn Fein from the government if the IRA refused to give up its weapons. Seamus Mallon of the Social Democratic and Labour Party said he would be "the first to have [Sinn Fein] removed from every vestige of the political process" unless the IRA promised to disarm. The new target date for forming the government is July 15.

New fighting between rival clans in Somalia caused the closure of much of the country's border with Kenya and, aid experts said, has put more than 1 million people at risk of famine. The fighting has compounded the failure of this year's rainy season, which is likely to cause drastically reduced harvests next month, a UN spokeswoman said. On Monday, self-appointed Islamic courts in Mogadishu, the capital, sent a force of militiamen to clear roadblocks used by clans to extort money from ordinary Somalis.

Compiled by Robert Kilborn and Lance Carden

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