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The handover of power to a new self-rule administration in Northern Ireland was postponed until the week of March 29 by the British government. The delay was announced by Britain's Secretary for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam, as Protestant and Catholic leaders in the province continued to squabble over the start of disarmament by the Irish Republican Army. Sinn Fein, the IRA's political ally, is entitled to two seats on the ministerial council. But Protestant First Minister-Designate David Trimble has insisted that the IRA turn in at least some of its weapons first.

Yugoslav Army units refused to allow aid workers access to thousands of ethnic Albanian refugees who'd fled fighting in their village in Kosovo and were trapped in hills near the border with Macedonia. Elsewhere, international monitors said Serb troops had extended their lines northeast of Pristina, the Kosovo capital, and were shelling at least one town. Meanwhile, special US envoy Richard Holbrooke prepared to meet today with Yugoslav President Milosevic, saying he'd warn that the Clinton administration expected "dramatic improvement" in Kosovo before the next round of peace talks is due to open Monday outside Paris.

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A former health minister was convicted of manslaughter for his role in France's tainted-blood scandal. But a Paris court gave Edmond Herve a suspend-ed sentence, arguing he'd "suffered enough" during the inquiry leading to his trial. The court acquitted ex-Prime Minister Laurent Fabius and former Social Affairs Minister Georgina Dufoix. They were accused of delaying the screening of blood donors in 1985 until a test developed by French experts was ready. An estimated 3,600 people who received transfusions of tainted blood became infected with the virus that's believed to cause AIDS; 1,000 have died.

Three more political organizers were murdered in South Africa as party rivalries threatened to escalate out of control before the nation's June 2 presidential election. The deaths, in Cape Town, followed those of two other activists Sunday. Four of the victims belonged to the United Democratic Movement, which has built an enthusiastic following since its founding in 1997.

Glossing over the sore spots of immigration and trade in the US's relationship with Central America, President Clinton wound up visits to Nicaragua and El Salvador and headed for Honduras. The latter sustained an estimated $3.4 billion in damage last fall from hurricane Mitch, and Clinton - as he did at his earlier stops - was expected to announce an immediate aid grant.

The OK for almost $5 billion in new loan payments to financially troubled Brazil was given by officials of the International Monetary Fund. It followed six weeks of meetings with government representatives over concerns that they were serious about taking measures to reform Latin America's largest economy. The payment is part of a $41.5 billion rescue package approved in November but then suspended when Brazil devalued its currency Jan. 12.

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