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N. Korea: We'll ignore U.N. resolution on nuclear standoff

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2003

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea warned Saturday it would ignore any U.N. resolution over its suspected nuclear weapons development as the Security Council prepared to discuss the international standoff over the issue.

"The nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula is not something that should be discussed at the United Nations," the state-run KCNA news agency said.

North Korea "would not recognize and pronounce null any resolution or document on the nuclear issue," said KCNA, monitored by South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

The Security Council will discuss the nuclear dispute on Wednesday. North Korea rejects U.N. involvement in the standoff, saying the North's dispute is only with the United States. Pyongyang demands direct talks with Washington.

"The U.N. seems to have lost its mandate because of the U.S. invasion of Iraq," KCNA said. "It is ridiculous for the (Security Council) to talk about handling the (North Korean) nuclear issue."

Washington, which wants multilateral talks, has been pressing the council to adopt a statement condemning Pyongyang for failing to meet its obligations to prevent the spread of nuclear arms.

China, which has ties with the reclusive North Korean regime and is one of the five veto-wielding members of the council, has refused to even discuss such a statement.

The 15-member council could eventually discuss imposing sanctions against North Korea if a political solution is not found -- a move the North has warned it would regard as a declaration of war.

Both China and Russia, which is also a permanent council member, have said they oppose international sanctions. The other council members with veto power are the United States, Britain and France.

Israel: No compromise on security

JERUSALEM -- Israel will propose more than a dozen changes to a Middle East peace initiative, and is prepared to walk away from negotiations if the amendments are rejected, a top aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said on Saturday.

The aide, Dov Weisglass, said most of Israel's concerns centered on ending Palestinian attacks and establishing Palestinian security forces committed to halting violence.

The United States, the European Union, Russia and the United Nations are all backing the peace plan, known as a "road map," as the way to revive negotiations that collapsed more than two years ago. The goal is a comprehensive peace agreement and the creation of a Palestinian state by 2005.

Both sides support the plan in principle, though the Israelis have expressed reservations about several crucial points.

The Palestinians say they accept the peace plan in its current form and accuse Israel of seeking to delay it or undermine it by demanding alterations.

AMERICAN SHOT: An American peace activist working as a human shield in the West Bank was seriously wounded when Israeli troops allegedly opened fire on him. Brian Avery, 24, from Albuquerque, N.M., was semiconscious when taken to the hospital.

Former Croatian Serb leader arrested

BELGRADE, Serbia-Montenegro -- Police investigating the killing of Serbia's prime minister said they have arrested a former Croatian Serb leader, a top secret-service official and lawyers working for an underworld group.

Borislav Mikelic, who briefly served as the prime minister of the self-declared Serb ministate in wartime Croatia, was arrested on charges of having ties to the Zemun Clan thought responsible for the March 12 sniper attack on Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic.

"Mikelic is believed to be responsible for liaising between assassins and other Serbian hard-liners in Bosnia," a police statement said.

Police also arrested Milorad Bracanovic, a former ranking official in Serbia's secret service, for allegedly masterminding the abductions and assassinations of people who opposed former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Police also announced the arrest of "two mafia lawyers" working for the Zemun Clan.

Elsewhere . . .

HONDURAS: A fist fight at a prison in northern Honduras escalated into a riot that left 86 inmates dead and dozens injured after the prisoners set fire to their mattresses and furniture, authorities said. Prison spokesman Leonel Sauceda said the flames quickly engulfed part of the El Porvenir prison in La Ceiba, a port city 220 miles north of Tegucigalpa, the capital.

BANGLADESH: A river boat carrying more than 170 people capsized in northeastern Bangladesh, killing at least 60 people, mostly women and children. About 100 people swam to safety or were rescued by villagers when the overcrowded boat collided with a barge and sank late Friday in the Surma River.

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