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PUTIN SUGGESTS MISSILE SHIELD AS JOINT EUROPEAN DEFENSE

President Vladimir Putin pressed NATO's secretary-general today to give serious consideration to a new proposal by Moscow to set up a European missile defense.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev presented Secretary-General Lord Robertson with Russia's official proposal on a possible joint European missile defense in a Kremlin meeting.

Moscow made the proposal as an answer to the U.S. plan to construct its own limited missile defense shield to protect against possible attacks by such countries as North Korea.

If an expert commission decides that Europe is vulnerable to missile strikes and the threat cannot be combated militarily, then the proposal calls for creation of mobile anti-missile units, Defense Ministry officials said.

Moscow should have no illusions that NATO would split ranks on the missile defense issue, Robertson said. "I made it clear that the NATO allies accept that the United States has made its decision to have an effective missile defense," he said. "But what is important now is that we now have a Russian proposal to deal with the same kind of perceived threat."

Greek diva's underclothes
put in unmentionable place

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- No bras were burned. No girdles were grilled.

Instead of destroying the intimate apparel of opera diva Maria Callas -- as originally promised after buying them at auction in December -- the Greek Culture Ministry now say the private articles will be stashed far away from public view.

"We will lock them up and then we will forget where we put them," Alkistis Soulogianni, director of the Culture Ministry's International Cultural Relations Department, said Monday.

Soulogianni told the Associated Press that the underclothes of the late soprano were packaged and locked in a safe. The final location of that safe has yet to be decided.

Thirteen lots of intimate apparel, including a black lace slip and stockings, were bought by the Culture Ministry. They cost about $24,000.

"When you're dealing with a legend, sentimentality comes into play," Soulogianni said.

"We just couldn't burn the objects. But no one will ever see them, either."

Tense hearing opens in Israel
on killing of 13 Arab citizens

JERUSALEM (AP) -- A long line of tables separated the witness stand from the audience today during a state commission's hearings on the killing of 13 Arab Israelis by security forces last October during anti-government protests.

The increased security was meant to prevent friction between bereaved families and officers testifying before the three-member panel. On Monday, the first day of the hearings, the father of one shooting victim had lunged at a border policeman.

The inquiry is expected to last several months. The findings will be submitted to the prime minister, but they will not be binding.

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