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News Briefs

Kosovo Serb Leader Shot in Home

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- PRISTINA, YUGOSLAVIA

A moderate Kosovo Serb leader was shot and wounded at his home, peacekeeping authorities said Monday, as the top U.N. official here denounced anti-Serb violence and warned ethnic Albanians they risk losing world support.

Momcilo Trajkovic, president of the Serbian Resistance Movement, suffered a gunshot wound to his right thigh after being attacked by “unknown assailants” late Sunday evening, U.N. spokeswoman Daniela Rozgonova said. Police are seeking two ethnic Albanian suspects, she said.

Trajkovic, 49, is a longtime critic of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and a key representative of Kosovo Serbs. Bernard Kouchner, head of the U.N. mission here, issued a statement in which he called Trajkovic “one of our most important allies in our efforts to build a tolerant and multiethnic Kosovo.”

The shooting of Trajkovic comes amid continuing ethnic violence in Kosovo, including many attacks on Serbs that are seen either as revenge by ethnic Albanians or part of an effort to drive remaining Serbs from Kosovo.

Clinton Urges Barak, Arafat to Complete What Rabin Began

-- OSLO, NORWAY

President Clinton Monday urged Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to seize the “moment of opportunity” and move swiftly toward agreement on the toughest unresolved issues of the Oslo peace accords.

The president held head-to-head meetings, with no aides present, with Barak and Arafat after arriving in Oslo for memorial ceremonies honoring assassinated Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin, who signed the Oslo agreement with Arafat in 1993. Among the world leaders here are Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who will meet with Clinton on Tuesday.

Clinton said, “I don’t think you should expect some sort of major announced breakthrough” in his talks with Barak and Arafat.

But despite a serious case of jet lag -- he slept barely two hours on the transatlantic flight -- the president spent much of a long day nudging the Middle Eastern leaders toward agreement. On Tuesday, Clinton is to hold a three-way session with Barak and Arafat in the hope that he can accelerate their next round of talks on such difficult issues as the borders of a Palestinian state and the status of the disputed holy city of Jerusalem.

China and Falun Gong In Standoff

-- BEIJING

AFTER A WEEK IN WHICH HUNDREDS OF MEMBERS OF THE BANNED FALUN GONG SPIRITUAL MOVEMENT DEFIED CHINA’S SECURITY APPARATUS BY SILENTLY DEMONSTRATING IN TIANANMEN SQUARE, THE TWO SIDES APPEAR STUCK IN AN UNEASY STANDOFF.

Beijing’s claims of victory in smashing the movement and getting its followers to abandon their faith are at best premature. But Falun Gong disciples’ optimism that the protests can overturn the government ban on the group seems equally unrealistic.

On Monday, police arrested a handful of Falun Gong members who had made it to the square. However, the number of protesters had dwindled since last week, when hundreds of members were detained.

Beijing stands little chance of eradicating the group, as its founder, Li Hongzhi, now commands a worldwide following from New York. And with government levers of social and ideological control eroded by reforms, the regime is finding that its options at home are limited.