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Speight toughens stand on hostages
Fiji's military ruler, Commodore J. V. (Frank) Bainimarama, today sought to call the bluff of the ``civil coup'' leader, Mr. George Speight, over the captivity of the deposed Prime Minister, Mr. Mahendra Pal Chaudhry, and 30 others. Mr. Speight responded by saying the hostages' lives could be endangered if the military tried to rescue them by force.

 Coup in Solomon Islands
Rebel gunmen demanded the resignation of the Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Mr. Bartholomew Ulufa'Alu, today after taking him hostage in the capital Honiara in a coup. Mr. Ulufa'Alu and the Governor-General, Father John Lapli, were kidnapped by six gunmen led by a Honiara lawyer, Mr. Andrew Nori, while other rebel units combined with elements of the police in seizing key installations.

 Russia, U.S. differ on missile defence
The three-day Russian-American summit has failed to break the deadlock over U.S. missile defence plans, but left the door ajar for a future compromise.

'Key role for States in reform'
The Union Finance Minister, Mr. Yashwant Sinha, today said all States in the country had important roles to play in the second generation reforms to be launched by the National Democratic Alliance Government soon.

Cong., Left criticise Karunanidhi's proposal
Even as the Government sought to shrug off the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi's controversial statement on Sri Lanka with the Foreign Office maintaining that there was no change in India's officially stated position, the Opposition parties alleged ``confusion'' in the ruling National Democratic Alliance on the issue and demanded that the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, ``condemn'' the DMK chief's remarks.

Govt. stand unchanged
India's position on Sri Lanka has not changed and Colombo has not raised the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr. M. Karunanidhi's controversial remarks on the situation on the island with New Delhi, the Foreign Office said today.

Crucial Sri Lankan meeting today
Sri Lanka's ruling People's Alliance (PA) coalition and the opposition United National Party(UNP) are expected to cross swords over the most contentious issues in the draft constitutional reforms at a meeting tomorrow. The President, Mrs Chandrika Kumaratunga, has set a June 15 deadline for finishing consultations with the UNP on the reforms, of which devolution to the Tamil minority forms the centre-piece.

'Tamils not for separate state'
The suggestion by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M Karunanidhi, that Sri Lanka follow the Czechoslovakian model and split into two separate countries evoked a sharp reaction from the island today.

Elangovan TNCC chief
The Congress today appointed Mr E.V.K.S. Elangovan as the new TNCC president. He replaces Mr Tindivanam Ramamurthy.


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