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Fearing for his safety, elections chief flees Haiti mid-count

The head of Haiti's electoral council fled the country after opponents threatened his life and burned down his farmhouse nearly two weeks after disputed elections, an official said Monday.

Jacques Bernard, appointed three months ago to bring order to a council that was plagued by organizational problems and infighting, left Sunday and may have traveled to Miami, said Michel Brunache, chief of staff for interim President Boniface Alexandre.

On Friday, Bernard had reported receiving threats and requested more security amid complaints about the vote count from the Feb. 7 elections, which returned former President Rene Preval to the office, Brunache said.

"He said he was afraid for himself and his family and said he wanted more security," Brunache said. "I was shocked when I heard he had left."

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti said it didn't know Bernard's whereabouts.

Bernard's absence could throw the vote-counting for legislative elections into disarray. Logistical delays have already slowed the result tabulation.

Nuclear enrichment talks stall for Russia, Iran

MOSCOW - A Russian effort to forge a compromise over Iran's nuclear program stalled Monday after talks ended inconclusively. Negotiators for both countries agreed to hold new talks but did not say when or where.

The discussions focused on the details of Russia's offer to set up a joint venture to enrich uranium in Russia for Iran's nuclear fuel.

But senior officials on both sides played down the prospects of agreement before a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency on March 6 about whether Iran's nuclear program should be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible punitive action.

During meetings in Brussels with officials of the European Union, Iran's foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, said that regardless of Russia's proposal, Iran would continue its nuclear research, which the United States and other countries suspect is intended to develop weapons.

After Monday's talks in Moscow, Russia's foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, called on Iran to restore a moratorium on uranium enrichment.

In televised remarks before Monday's talks, Lavrov said Russia remained committed to finding a peaceful solution, but acknowledged that the issue was mired in "the current blind alley."

Australia to send more troops to Afghanistan

SYDNEY, Australia - Australia will send an additional 200 military personnel to Afghanistan to assist in reconstruction efforts there, Prime Minister John Howard said today.

Howard said the troops will be deployed in late July and will come under the command of a Dutch-led provincial reconstruction team. The force would be deployed over a two-year period.

Sudan opposes plan for new peacekeeping force

KHARTOUM, Sudan - Sudan's vice president told a visiting U.S. delegation that the country opposed a proposal to deploy international peacekeepers to Darfur, but was committed to negotiations to end tensions in the region, state media reported Monday.

Despite the Sudanese objections, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton on Monday accused the United Nations and some Security Council members of moving too slowly toward setting up the U.N. force.

The Security Council on Feb. 3 urged the United Nations to start planning to take over the mission from 7,000 African Union troops.

"Sudan rejects replacement of the African Union forces with United Nations forces," Vice President Ali Osman Mohamed Taha told the 11-member U.S. congressional delegation Sunday night after they returned from Darfur, according to the state-run Sudan News Agency.