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World Briefs I

FBI Won't Say Whether Officials Believe Guard Shot Homeless Man

the Washington Post

For the second straight day, the FBI refused Monday to say whether officials believe a bullet shot from the gun of a private security guard at the Pentagon killed an apparently homeless man whose body was found nearby.

Officials delayed by one day an autopsy that would produce the slug from the man's body so that it could be checked against the guard's gun. They refused to release the identity of the guard. And they were still trying Monday night to learn the name of the victim through fingerprints.

FBI spokeswoman Susan Lloyd would not provide details of how the guard's gun discharged, except to say the guard was stationed about 20 yards from where the man's body was found on a public roadside near the Pentagon's River Entrance. She said the guard reported to his supervisors that his gun had fired about an hour before the man's body was spotted by a passing motorist.

"The heart of this investigation is to determine if there is a correlation between the discharge of the guard's weapon and the shooting of this individual, and the circumstances leading up to the discharge of the weapon," Lloyd said.

Congress Chief Sitaram Kesri Clears Path for Sonia Gandhi

The Washington Post

Sitaram Kesri resigned Monday as president of the Indian National Congress, clearing the way for Sonia Gandhi formally to take charge of the political party that her husband, Rajiv Gandhi, led from 1984 until his assassination in 1991.

Kesri, 78, did not explain during a news conference why he resigned, but he did urge the Italian-born widow of the former prime minister to take charge of the second-largest party in the new parliament.

Gandhi, 51, did not respond publicly to Kesri's announcement, but party insiders indicated that she has agreed to become party president. Her spokesman, Vincent George, said, "If he said that, yes, definitely she will consider it," the Associated Press reported.

Gandhi was the party's star campaigner in this year's parliamentary election, attracting large crowds but not enough votes to improve on the party's record low of 140 seats in the 545-member lower house of Parliament.

Sharad Pawar, a Congress party leader, said that Kesri resigned to "give the reins of the party to new blood." He said the resignation will have no bearing on whether the Congress party joins with the ruling United Front coalition to make a bid to form a new government, a prospect that has dimmed because several of the United Front's member parties have expressed reservations about it.

Feds May Axe Lockheed Deal

Los Angeles Times

After an eight-month antitrust review, federal regulators have raised serious objections to Lockheed Martin's $11.6 billion acquisition of Northrop Grumman and may file suit to block it later this week, the companies said Monday.

The disclosure of serious opposition to the deal by the Justice Department and the Pentagon shocked investors and sent shares in Los Angeles-based Northrop skidding by about 17 percent in trading Monday afternoon.

Although the companies said they would try to meet the government's concerns, they also vowed to "vigorously oppose any attempt to block the transaction."

But the government's objections include a demand that Lockheed divest virtually all of Northrop's defense electronics programs, located near Baltimore, Orlando, Fla., and Chicago, according to industry sources.

The electronics business was a key reason Lockheed wanted to buy Northrop. Thus, if the government does not budge on the demands for Lockheed to divest the radar, electronic warfare and intelligence programs, the entire deal could be jeopardized.

In a letter issued late Monday that was part of a tense exchange of statements throughout the day, Lockheed officials agreed to postpone the merger for 30 days beyond the original March 24 deadline for closing the deal. The company said it would submit a proposal in the meantime to address the government's antitrust concerns.