World briefs 7/28 10A

Sunday, July 28, 2002

Iraqi leaders to meet with senior U.S. officials

The Bush administration has invited key leaders of the Iraqi opposition for a meeting next month with senior officials from the State and Defense Departments in a bid to end sniping between rival Iraqi opposition groups and within the administration over the campaign to oust Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, officials said Friday.

While administration officials in various agencies have met individually with Iraqi opposition leaders, this is the first time so many figures in the opposition movement will meet jointly with officials from State and Defense.

The meeting is expected to take place in Washington on Aug. 9, with Aug. 16 as the backup date, Lapan said.

One Iraqi opposition source said: "We're going to hear that the United States is dead serious about getting rid of Saddam and you have a role but you have to work together."

Peace plans raise hopes for war-torn Africa

NAIROBI, Kenya -- Peace efforts in Africa suddenly seem to be making progress, with major breakthroughs toward ending fighting in Congo, Sudan and Burundi in less than week.

While Africa's truces historically have far outnumbered lasting peace agreements, important progress in those three major hot spots provides some grounds for optimism on the war-weary continent.

The reasons for movement are varied, but all the plans have in common offers of financial rewards for peace, increased U.S. diplomatic attention and renewed commitments by African leaders eager to improve their reputations and economies.

Grenade blast injures 27 in Austrian discotheque

LINZ, Austria -- A hand-grenade blast sprayed tiny metal pellets and shrapnel through a discotheque filled with young Balkan immigrants Saturday, injuring 27 people, police said.

The explosion ripped through the X-Large Disco in Linz, about 120 miles west of Vienna, at 3:20 a.m., leaving patrons with steel balls embedded in their skin and bodies, a doctor said.

Experts said the grenade -- which was packed with thousands of .12-inch steel balls -- was designed to injure, not kill. Grenades like it are readily available on the black market in Eastern Europe and the Balkans, they said.

The Federal Criminal Bureau, Austria's equivalent of the FBI, was sending explosives experts to the scene.

Authorities said the disco and a small adjoining restaurant were popular with young Serbian and Croatian immigrants.

Farm summit ends in row over free-trade plan

NARA, Japan -- Japan and the European Union attacked a free-trade farm proposal rolled out by the United States Saturday as ministers from the world's top farming powers finished a two-day summit far from agreement.

Japanese Agriculture Minister Tsutomu Takebe criticized the U.S. plan as lopsided -- excessively slashing tariffs, while not doing enough to address concerns about preserving the environment or traditional farming practices.

Europe and Japan favor free trade rules that also allow subsidies to protect their small-scale farmers, while the United States is focused on wiping away tariffs to give its large-scale farms greater international access.

Indian Vice President Krishan Kant dead at 75

NEW DELHI, India -- Indian Vice President Krishan Kant, who occupied the nation's second highest ceremonial position, died Saturday from a heart attack, doctors said. He was 75.

India's vice president is the chairman of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, but has few other powers. The vice president holds the office of the president if the office is vacant due to death, resignation or removal.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's Cabinet announced three days of national mourning.

A government spokesman said Kant, a Hindu, would be buried Sunday. He is survived by his wife Suman Kant, two sons and a daughter.

-- From wire reports

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