Peace Plan Drafted for Sierra Leone

LOME, Togo -- Amid new signs that Sierra Leone's bloody civil war could soon end, Nigeria and Togo called for "national reconciliation" between the rebels and the government.

A source close to Togo's Foreign Ministry said a draft peace plan had been presented to Togo's president, Gnassingbe Eyadema. Togo and Nigeria have been mediating between the rebels of Sierra Leone's Revolutionary United Front and the regime of President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah during four weeks of peace talks here.

It was not known when the warring sides would respond to the draft, the source said, but they planned to meet again Monday.

Algeria to Pardon Thousands of Militants

ALGIERS -- Thousands of jailed Islamic militants will be pardoned on Algeria's Independence Day, the president said, in a gesture aimed at ending the North African nation's bloody civil conflict.

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika also said he plans to hold a referendum on legislation to give legal status to an insurgency group, the Islamic Salvation Army, which has disarmed.

Bouteflika, at a news conference in Geneva where he arrived on his way to an economic forum, said only militants who had a "support" role in the insurgency may be pardoned. "Those who committed crimes and rape" are excluded.

The plan to pardon jailed Muslim militants is part of an effort by Bouteflika to achieve national reconciliation in Algeria, where an Islamic insurgency since 1992 has left an estimated 75,000 people dead. Algeria celebrates its independence from France on July 5.

Ethiopia Claims to Bomb Eritrean Port

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- Ethiopia said it bombed the airport at the Eritrean port of Assab 300 miles southeast of Asmara, severely damaging the runway.

Fighting continued in the disputed Badme area after Eritrea launched an attack Friday to recover territory it lost in February, the Ethiopian statement said. Eritrea captured Badme at the outset of the war in May 1998 but lost it to an Ethiopian offensive in February.

Both sides claim to have killed thousands of troops in the 13-month border war, and both have accepted an Organization of African Unity plan to arrange a peaceful end to the conflict, which has spread to several fronts along their 620-mile border. However, their interpretations of the peace plan differ.

Congo Combatants Argue Cease-Fire Terms

LUSAKA, Zambia -- A summit to end Congo's civil war was postponed as negotiators wrangled over conditions for a cease-fire. Outside mediators still hoped to salvage a deal "within days."

Congolese rebel leaders met face-to-face with Congolese government officials for the first time in weeks, fueling hopes that a full-scale summit was still in the offing, said Salim Ahmed Salim, secretary general of the Organization of African Unity.

Salim added that all the warring parties were at the meeting. "There are still problems, but there is a spirit of give and take," he said.


India Increases Pressure in Kashmir

NEW DELHI -- India carried out air raids against infiltrators on its side of Kashmir and exchanged fire with Pakistan across the military line dividing the disputed Himalayan region, officials said.

Meanwhile, the rival nuclear powers, under pressure from the United States, were considering a proposal that the infiltrators be allowed to withdraw safely to the Pakistani side, the Times of India said. When asked about the report, an Indian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: "I have no idea of any such proposal."

Indian fighter jets kept up their airstrikes in the Kargil zone of Kashmir, where hundreds of armed infiltrators are holed up on the snow-covered heights. The air raids began on May 26.

Philippine Leader Extends Convict's Reprieve

MANILA -- One day after failing in his attempt to stay an execution, President Joseph Estrada extended another convict's reprieve.

Pablito Andan, convicted of raping and murdering his cousin four years ago, was scheduled for execution by lethal injection on Monday, but Estrada said during his weekly radio program that he would postpone it after appeals by Roman Catholic Bishop Teodoro Bacani.

Estrada tried to stop the execution Friday of convicted rapist Eduardo Agbayani but could not get through to the prison in time.


Britain Expects N. Ireland Talks to Resume

BELFAST -- The British minister responsible for Northern Ireland said she believed last-minute talks to unblock the peace process would produce a deal next week.

"There will be a deal. I can't believe that anybody would not realize the seriousness of the present situation. We'll make something," Marjorie Mowlam told BBC Ulster radio.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his Irish counterpart, Bertie Ahern, met leaders from across the province's political and sectarian divide on Friday to revive the moribund peace deal. They said progress was made but difficulties remained over two issues: when and how Irish Republican Army guerrillas would hand over their weapons, and the role of the IRA's political wing, Sinn Fein, in a power-sharing executive.


Brazil Summit to Weigh Capital-Flow Limits

RIO DE JANEIRO -- On the eve of their two-day summit, Latin American, Caribbean and European Union leaders reached a consensus on the language of controls proposed to regulate the international flow of capital.

A Brazilian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the need to control the flow of capital would be mentioned in the Declaration of Rio de Janeiro to be signed at the summit, which starts Monday. The decision to address the issue at the summit was seen as a triumph for Brazil, which was among the nations hit hardest by Asia's financial crisis of two years ago. Brazil and Chile had pressed for inclusion of capital-flow controls in the summit's final document.

Quote of the Day

"I would like to tell everybody I was raped so people will know what that Serb did. But my father doesn't allow it. . . . He is drinking all the time. It is very tough on him."

--a Kosovo Albanian woman