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Six nations impose new sanctions on Yugoslavia

The six-nation Contact Group agreed to new sanctions Wednesday against Yugoslavia because of the worsening situation in Kosovo province.

The measures include an immediate freezing of Yugoslav assets abroad and a call for a freeze on new foreign investment in Yugoslavia if it resists a dialogue on Kosovo's status. Economists, bankers and businessmen in Belgrade, the Yugoslav capital, said the sanctions were a warning to politicians and were unlikely to have an immediate effect on the economy.

About 150 people have been killed in Kosovo since Feb. 28, when Serbian security forces cracked down on ethnic Albanian separatists. Serbia is the dominant of two republics in Yugoslavia.

The six nations of the Contact Group _ the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and Italy _ will meet May 8 in London to assess progress.

Former guerrilla to lead

South African military

PRETORIA, South Africa _ President Nelson Mandela has named a former guerrilla leader as the nation's first black military chief.

Lt. Gen. Siphiwe Nyanda, 47, will succeed Gen. Georg Meiring as head of the South African National Defense Force at the end of May, government spokesman Joel Netshitenzhe said Wednesday.

"I am conscious of the heavy responsibility," said Nyanda, who will preside over a defense force that combines former apartheid military figures with former anti-apartheid fighters.

Tycoon picked to head

ex-Soviet coalition

MOSCOW _ The Commonwealth of Independent States named controversial Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky as its executive secretary Wednesday in an attempt to boost the profile of the lackluster group.

Berezovsky, who has been linked to a number of political intrigues, said he took the post to try to improve cooperation among the states in the CIS. Critics suggested he wanted to use the position to advance his business interests.

The CIS is a loose coalition of 12 of the 15 former Soviet republics _ all except the Baltic states.

Afghan factions take

key step toward peace

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan _ In a breakthrough that could end two decades of war, Afghanistan's warring factions agreed Wednesday to set up a governing commission of religious scholars.

The sides, meeting here for talks, agreed to appoint 20 delegates apiece to the commission. No date for the formation of the commission was announced. Both sides said its establishment must precede any formal cease fire.

The Taleban religious army, which controls 85 percent of the country, is fighting an alliance of militias.

North Korea's Kim

calls for improving ties

SEOUL, South Korea _ In a rare public statement, Communist North Korean leader Kim Jong Il has called for improving ties with rival South Korea, the North's media reported Wednesday.

But Kim insisted that South Korea first abolish its national security laws and disband its intelligence agency, demands already rejected by Seoul.

"We must improve the relations between the North and the South in order to achieve the great unity of our nation," Kim said.