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News Briefs I

Bosnian Armies Are Demobilizing

Los Angeles Times

Bosnia's armies were working Thursday to meet the final military deadline in the Dayton peace agreement, warehousing their tanks and missiles and sending their soldiers to barracks or home.

As many as 150,000 Muslim, Croatian and Serbian soldiers were being demobilized - half the number of troops who waged war during the past four years - and heavy weapons were being stored at 600 sites around the country.

"It means, in essence, that the war is over," said British Maj. Simon Haselock, the spokesman for NATO's peace implementation force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

NATO officials said the formidable undertaking would not be completed by the midnight Thursday deadline. But senior NATO commanders said they have seen the intention of the three sides to comply, and that's good enough for them.

Congressional Leaders Say They Are Close to a Budget Agreement

The Washington Post

Congressional Republican and Democratic negotiators said Thursday they were close to an agreement with the White House on a $163 billion spending bill for nine Cabinet departments and dozens of agencies that would bring an end to a prolonged budget dispute that triggered two partial government shutdowns.

GOP and Democratic leaders acknowledged that they still had to resolve a number of sticky environmental and spending differences. But all sides agreed that a compromise was likely before next Wednesday, when a temporary spending bill expires.

"We've made real progress," said Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Mark O. Hatfield, R-Ore., while House Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Livingston, R-La., said, "We still have some unagreed-upon, unconsummated issues, but we expect to have a bill by Tuesday." Rep. David R. Obey of Wiscon (Wis.), ranking Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee who had been highly critical of the Republicans' previous offers, told reporters, "I think we are moving significantly closer."

Saudi Dissident to Stay in Britain

The Washington Post

The British government Thursday reversed an earlier decision to expel a leading Saudi Arabian dissident whose high-tech propagandizing from here had prompted the Saudi regime to threaten its trade relationship with Britain.

Mohammed Masari will be permitted to stay in Britain for at least another four years, the government decided. The action Thursday followed heavy criticism of the earlier expulsion order from civil liberties organizations and members of Parliament, who accused the government of buckling to pressure from businesses that sell arms to the Saudis.

An immigration judge also had challenged the action, ordering the government to reconsider on the grounds that it had failed, under British law, to adequately consider Masari's personal safety.

Masari, 49, is a former physics professor at King Saud University in Riyadh who was jailed in Saudi Arabia in 1993 after joining with other dissident scholars to form the Committee for the Defense of Legitimate Rights. Saudi authorities accused Masari of trying to undermine the regime by advocating, among other things, a multi-party state. After being beaten during his six months in prison, Masari has said, he was released to house arrest and fled to Britain, which is traditionally hospitable to exiles.

Here, using computers, modems and faxes, he sent back to Saudi Arabia newsletters filled with embarrassing stories about the Saudi royal family and government.

When the British ordered him shipped off to the Caribbean island-state of Dominica in January, officials acknowledged they were responding to pressure not only from the Saudi government but from British arms manufacturers who were pressured by the Saudis.