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News Briefs, part 2

Haiti Fails to Respond To U.N.'s Final Proposal

Los Angeles Times

PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti

Negotiations to end Haiti's long-running political and economic crisis were being pushed to the very last minute as the country's ruling military declined Thursday to respond to a final proposal by U.N. special envoy Dante Caputo.

Caputo had delivered a letter to the military commander, Gen. Raoul Cedras, in a 90-minute session, Wednesday night, outlining a program that would bring back democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in a coup in September 1991.

In exchange for Aristide's return, the plan offers an end to the economic embargo imposed after Aristide's overthrow, major international financial and development aid and a blanket amnesty for Cedras and others involved in the coup.

Caputo asked for a yes or a no, telling reporters early Thursday that the military has "to go to real decisions now. That is what I am asking for, decisions."

Caputo said that he had left the Wednesday session "feeling good" about the atmosphere.

"It was a positive meeting, I think," he said.

The next step was to have been a meeting Thursday afternoon with Cedras and others of his high command in which they were to give their answer to Caputo, a former Argentine foreign minister. Diplomatic and other sources, including a close Aristide adviser, were confident that it would be yes.

However, by nightfall, Caputo was still in his hotel; he never received the call summoning to the meeting.

His schedule for Friday reflected no displeasure at the delay. It still calls for him to see the officers before leaving in the late afternoon for Washington. Caputo told a reporter that he is even willing to wait until Saturday if necessary.

Thatcher's Remarks Heat Up Debate Over Bosnia Peace

Los Angeles Times

LONDON

Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has reignited the international debate about how best to bring peace to the Balkans with her withering attack on Western nations for failing to support Bosnia-Herzegovina's Muslims.

Baroness Thatcher this week accused Prime Minister John Major and his government of lacking resolve, as she widened her campaign urging support for Bosnia's Muslims in their struggle against the attacking Serbs.

Thatcher, in turn, has been depicted by Cabinet ministers -- led by Defense Secretary Malcolm Rifkind -- as talking "emotional nonsense." That view was echoed by U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher; in an American television interview Thursday, he termed her perspective "emotional."

Thatcher began her campaign early this week in interviews with British television, in which she accused Britain and the European Community of being "accomplices to massacre" by not reacting to Serbian aggression. She continued her criticism on American TV, calling on Western governments to arm the Bosnian Muslims and back them up with "aggressive" air strikes against Serbian positions shelling Muslim communities.

"We cannot just let things go on like this," she said. "It is evil. If these governments are not moved by those pictures of death and suffering, if they are not moved by the position of `ethnic cleansing' in Europe, 2 million refugees, mass graves being found in Croatia, then they should be.

"All that is required for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing," she said. "Humanitarian aid is not enough."

Thatcher's remarks were triggered by the Serb shelling of Srebrenica, which killed more than 70 adults and children. The Monday attack was launched shortly after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization began enforcing a "no-fly" zone over Bosnia.

Clinton Invites Gay Leaders To the White House

The Baltimore Sun

WASHINGTON

Amid complaints that President Clinton is ducking out of town during a huge gay and lesbian march April 25, the White House has invited a delegation of gay and lesbian leaders to meet with the president in the Oval Office Friday afternoon.

Gay leaders had mixed reactions to the announcement. On the one hand, some expressed delight at what they characterized as the first meeting in history between a United States president and openly homosexual Americans.

On the other hand, they still very much want the president to attend their march -- and plan to use their meeting with him to tell him so.

"We're going to say, `Mr. President, there will be about a million people in town expecting you to be at the march,' " said Scout, a Chicago-area activist who doesn't use a last name. She is one of the national co-chairs for the Committee for the March on Washington.

"President Kennedy did not attend the 1963 civil rights march -- and publicly regretted it weeks later," she added. "We don't want that to happen to President Clinton."

The delegation does not expect an answer from the president immediately.

Some Americans, of course, do not want the president meeting with gay rights activists at all. On April 23, 1990 when President Bush signed the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, the White House invited gay leaders, as well as Jewish groups, black members of Congress, civil rights leaders and others to the bill signing ceremony at the White House.

The ceremony went smoothly, but for the next two years, Bush heard criticism from evangelical groups and some conservative Republican politicians for inviting gays and lesbians to the White House.