Ethnic Albanians object to proposal for Macedonia peace
SKOPJE, Macedonia -- Ethnic Albanian politicians expressed serious objections yesterday to a new Western-backed peace plan for Macedonia. Their comments came on the eve of talks to help end an ethnic Albanian insurgency that has threatened to develop into civil war.
The ethnic Albanian leaders did not reject the draft outright, which is meant to reconcile Macedonia's majority Slavs and minority ethnic Albanians. The parties meet today to negotiate.
"We have serious objections to the proposed document," said Zehir Bekteshi, a spokesman for the ethnic Albanian Party for Democratic Prosperity. "But this is only a draft version, it is not something final that could be immediately accepted or rejected," he said.
Police patrol English city after racial incidents
BRADFORD, England -- Hundreds of police patrolled the streets of this troubled city in northern England last night as community leaders wrestled with a widening racial rift.
Despite the heavy security presence, a gang of white youths smashed the windows of an Indian restaurant and an Asian-owned gas station in a predominantly white community on the outskirts of Bradford. "A group of around 30 white youths just came and started throwing bricks through the windows. They smashed them all," Kababeesh restaurant manager Tayab Amjad said.
About 120 police officers were injured Saturday night by mobs of white and South Asian youths armed with bats, rocks and firebombs. Several buildings were torched and looted. Police arrested 36 people. Twenty-seven were still in custody late yesterday.
Albania's Socialist Party claims landslide victory
TIRANA -- Albania's ruling Socialist Party claimed a landslide victory in the decisive second round of elections yesterday that monitors said were generally calm, although the opposition complained of irregularities.
The ruling Socialist Party of Prime Minister Ilir Meta, which won 33 of 100 seats in the first round on June 24, announced it had won 37 more seats yesterday against five for the opposition Democratic Party of former President Sali Berisha.
Another 40 seats in the 140-seat single chamber are allocated to the parties in proportion to the share of the overall vote they achieve. Final official results are due in by Wednesday.
Philippine rebel leader seized by authorities
MANILA, Philippines -- Police and soldiers have arrested one of the leaders of the Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group holding some 20 captives in the southern Philippines, officials said today.
National police Chief Leandro Mendoza said Nadzmie Sabtulah, also known as Commander Global, is the highest-ranking member of the Abu Sayyaf Muslim extremist group arrested yet. In the raid last night, police also arrested three young rebels, he said.
He said civilian informants tipped police off to a hideout in General Santos City. The four are members of Abu Sayyaf, a group holding as many as three Americans and other hostages on the southern island of Basilan in what its leaders say is part of a movement for an independent Muslim state.
Japan moves step closer to energy deal with Iran
TEHRAN, Iran -- Japan moved closer to securing the right to develop Iran's largest oil field, shrugging off U.S. efforts to stop allies from making major energy deals with a nation it accuses of sponsoring terrorism.
Japan signed a letter of intent with Iran yesterday in which it agreed to spend $10 million to help fund a seismic study of the Azadegan oil field, which contains an estimated 26 billion barrels of oil. The two countries also signed an energy cooperation agreement.
The United States accuses Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and has strongly discouraged investment in its energy sector.