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WORLD IN BRIEF

Thursday, March 10, 2005; Page A18

Lebanese Allies of Syria Seek to Reseat Premier

BEIRUT -- Bolstered by a massive pro-Syrian demonstration, Lebanese allies of Syria moved Wednesday to reinstate the prime minister, who was forced out last week by anti-Syrian protests.

Omar Karami was virtually assured nomination after 71 legislators put his name forward during consultations with President Emile Lahoud, lawmakers said. Under the constitution, the president is obliged to comply with the choice of a majority of the 128-member parliament.

Syria is keen to continue dominating Lebanese decision-making as it pulls its 15,000 troops back to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley and negotiates with the government in Beirut on a full withdrawal. As part of the pullback, which followed international pressure, Syrian soldiers evacuated positions in the north and central mountains Wednesday.

THE MIDDLE EAST

• JERICHO, West Bank -- Israel and the Palestinians deadlocked over the return of West Bank towns to Palestinian control, as the Palestinians insisted that Israel remove army roadblocks and lift travel restrictions while Israel said it could not take security risks until Palestinian security forces rein in militants.

A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv raised the possibility that Washington's new envoy in the region, Army Lt. Gen. William E. Ward, would intervene in the talks after taking up his post Thursday.

Also Wednesday, relatives of British filmmaker James Miller, who was killed while working in the Gaza Strip in May 2003, said the Israeli army had decided not to prosecute the soldier they believe is responsible for the death. They said they were told that the soldier would be disciplined for changing his story during the investigation.

THE AMERICAS

• LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Bolivian Indians blocked roads with boulders and vowed to continue opposing President Carlos Mesa, whose short-lived offer to resign failed to ease turmoil. Mesa had hoped that the offer, which Congress rejected Tuesday, would generate support and calm widespread street protests against his policies to encourage foreign investment in energy.

• GUATEMALA CITY -- Police used tear gas and water cannons to beat back hundreds of demonstrators who were trying to prevent Guatemala's Congress from approving a free-trade agreement with the United States. The protests have forced Congress to delay its vote.

• BOGOTA, Colombia -- A top member of Colombia's main rebel group was extradited to the United States to face drug-trafficking charges. There was extraordinary security around the transfer of Omaira Rojas, known by the nom de guerre of Sonia, who is suspected of having managed the finances as well as the drug trade of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

AFRICA

• UNITED NATIONS -- Jan Egeland, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator, said that far more people had died in Sudan's Darfur region than the 70,000 previously estimated and chastised African nations for not sending enough peacekeepers. Egeland, just back from a visit to Darfur, said it was impossible to estimate the deaths from killings or disease because "it is where we are not that there are attacks."

EUROPE

• THE HAGUE -- Kosovo's former prime minister, Ramush Haradinaj, surrendered to the U.N. war crimes tribunal a day after resigning to face charges stemming from the province's fight for independence.

Also at the tribunal, the leader of the Yugoslav army during the country's breakup, Gen. Momcilo Perisic, pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges, including atrocities at Srebrenica, Bosnia.

ASIA

• GAUHATI, India -- Suspected separatist militants launched a series of coordinated bombings in India's remote northeastern state of Assam, killing a policeman, wounding six people and blowing up a gas pipeline, police said.

-- From News Services


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