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IRA given 7 days to confirm it will disarm

Britain announced Friday that it will strip authority from Northern Ireland's power-sharing Cabinet in just seven days if the Irish Republican Army doesn't confirm it will disarm.

The timing, revealed for the first time by Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, means the Cabinet would be rendered powerless the day before Northern Ireland's major Protestant party, the Ulster Unionists, plans to vote on whether to remain in the four-party administration.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams angrily accused Mandelson of undermining his efforts to win a shift in the IRA's position.

Indonesia power struggle

now "critical,' official says

JAKARTA, Indonesia _ Indonesia's powerful security minister ignored for a third time the president's demand that he resign, while the army chief of staff denied Friday that soldiers would overthrow the democratically elected government.

The army chief, Gen. Tyasno Sudarto, however, warned the situation was "now becoming dangerous."

President Abdurrahman Wahid is engaged in a bitter power struggle with Gen. Wiranto, a former military commander accused by government investigators of allowing pro-Indonesia militias to devastate East Timor after its August vote for independence.

Impasse on Kohl scandal,

Christian Democrats say

BONN, Germany _ Germany's scandal-plagued Christian Democrats said Friday they had reached an impasse in identifying the sources of millions in covert campaign donations, even while tracing more money solicited by Helmut Kohl than the ex-chancellor had acknowledged.

But in an impassioned television interview, Kohl denied any knowledge of the party holding alleged secret accounts abroad and said he had done all he could _ short of breaking his word to unnamed donors _ to help the party untangle the scandal.

Party leaders said interviews with key players who set up a network of secret accounts failed to establish who gave Kohl the $1-million he said he received between 1993 and 1998.

Kohl admitted for the first time that he received funds from 1989 to 1992. Kohl said they were relatively small amounts and he could not remember the donors, party officials told a news conference.

Prime minister announces

early elections in Greece

Prime Minister Costas Simitis called for early elections in an attempt to win a fresh mandate to negotiate Greece's entry to the European Monetary Union this year. The announcement of the April 9 vote, five months earlier than scheduled, puts an end to speculation and nervous trading on the Athens stock market.

Chinese military warns

U.S. on Taiwan bill

BEIJING _ Angry with the U.S. Congress for voting to strengthen military ties with Taiwan, the Chinese armed forces on Friday warned Washington not to confuse China with Yugoslavia and Taiwan with Kosovo. A commentary in the newspaper of the People's Liberation Army said the House's approval of the bill sends "an extremely dangerous signal."

The bill "has exposed a plot by some American forces to use military force to thwart China's ambitions for unification," the Liberation Army Daily said. "This doubtlessly is playing with fire."

Osaka police ban

driving with big shoes

It is now illegal to wear platform shoes while driving in Osaka, Japan's second largest city. The Osaka police said thick soled shoes, which have become the latest fashion among young Japanese women, are a safety hazard.

The crackdown comes after a young woman wearing six-inch platform boots crashed into a pole, killing a friend riding in the passenger seat last November.

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