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World in brief

Dispute delays naming of Palestinian government

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 10, 2003


JERUSALEM -- The newly appointed Palestinian prime minister delayed naming his government Wednesday because of a dispute with Yasser Arafat over who should be in charge of the security forces.

Prime Minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas' delay came as five Palestinians, including a 16-year-old boy, were killed during clashes with Israeli troops in Gaza.

The choice for the post of interior minister could determine the credibility of a new government, which Western mediators and Israel hope will crack down on Palestinian militants.

Abbas favors former Gaza strongman Mohammed Dahlan, who is backed by international mediators and is seen as likely to try to rein in militants. Arafat wants to retain his longtime aide Hani al-Hassan, who has served as interior minister for months.

Israeli troops shot and killed a member of the Islamic militant group Hamas, a police officer, a security guard and a teenager, witnesses said. A fifth man died in a hospital, doctors said.

The Israeli army commander in the area said soldiers encountered a cell of five or six armed men near a rocket launcher and fired on them, killing the Hamas member.

Elsewhere . . .

CUBA: In its first first public comment on the trials of several dissidents, the government published a brief statement on Wednesday's front page of the Communist Party daily newspaper Granma saying the defendants were tried "for their known participation in mercenary activities and other acts against the independence or the territorial integrity of the Cuban state."

SOUTH KOREA: The United States will move Yongsan Garrison, its main military base in South Korea, out of the capital of Seoul as soon as possible, a U.S. official said Wednesday. The location has been a source of friction between the two countries recently.

NORTHERN IRELAND: Britain and Ireland put the finishing touches on a long-awaited blueprint for advancing the Northern Ireland peace accord, with Britain saying it wants its police and army to stop using plastic bullets -- a long-sought Sinn Fein demand.

NORTH KOREA: The U.N. Security Council expressed concern Wednesday about North Korea's nuclear program but, because of Chinese and Russian opposition, failed to condemn its withdrawal from a global weapons treaty as the United States demanded.

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