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The U.N. Security Council today nominated Secretary-General Kofi Annan for a second term at the helm of the United Nations, paving the way for his expected election by the General Assembly on Friday.

The 15-member council met in closed session and unanimously adopted a resolution recommending Annan's candidacy, council President Anwarul Chowdhury of Bangladesh announced.

The early and unanimous nomination was a far cry from 1996, when the United States blocked Annan's predecessor, Boutros Boutros-Ghali of Egypt, from serving another five years.

Ex-leader of Philippines
arraigned on perjury count

MANILA, Philippines (AP) -- Joseph Estrada today became the first former Philippine president to be arraigned on criminal charges, with thousands of riot police on alert to head off possible unrest.

After he refused to enter a plea to a perjury charge, the court entered a plea of innocent for him.

He was brought to the country's chief anti-corruption court for arraignment from a military hospital, where he has been confined while undergoing tests and treatment.

Estrada, 64, ousted from office in January by mass protests, is accused of misreporting his assets.

He also is to be arraigned in two weeks on the capital offense of plunder for allegedly taking millions of dollars in kickbacks and payoffs during 31 months in office.

Milosevic challenge gains
court delay on extradition

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Slobodan Milosevic's lawyers today asked that two judges and a prosecutor be dismissed from his case, delaying a hearing that would have moved the former president closer to being extradited to a U.N. war-crimes tribunal.

An extradition order and international war-crimes indictment were to have been read to Milosevic in the presence of his defense team at the Central Prison.

But Milosevic's lawyers announced their request minutes before the hearing, buying time until the Supreme Court in Serbia, Yugoslavia's dominant republic, rules on their motion. The court must make a ruling in 24 hours.

Milosevic, in prison since April 1 on state charges of corruption and abuse of power, is sought by the U.N. tribunal based in the Hague, Netherlands, for alleged involvement in atrocities committed in Kosovo during the crackdown on its ethnic Albanian population.

Encouraged by Yugoslavia's moves, the United States announced today that it would attend a donors conference Friday in Brussels, Belgium. The conference is aimed at drumming up financial aid for Yugoslavia. Washington has linked U.S. assistance to Milosevic's extradition.

U.N., China weighing plea
for asylum by 7 N. Koreans

BEIJING (AP) -- U.N. officials said they negotiated today with China over the fate of seven North Korean asylum-seekers who took refuge in a U.N. office in Beijing.

The seven family members entered the Beijing office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees on Tuesday and asked for asylum in South Korea, the commissioner's regional chief, Colin Mitchell, told reporters.

The seven -- a couple, their two teenage children, two grandparents and a nephew -- told the United Nations they faced persecution if they return to their homeland because a book by at least one family member published last year in South Korea was critical of North Korea's communist regime.

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