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U.S. REAFFIRMS COMMITMENT TO PEACE IN MACEDONIA

The United States will not abandon efforts to bring peace to Macedonia, a senior U.S. envoy said Wednesday, part of a broader message to reassure Balkan countries that Washington will not turn isolationist after the terrorist attacks against it.

"The situation in Macedonia is not affected by the tragedies in New York and Washington," U.S. envoy James Pardew said, alluding to the attacks on the World Trade Center towers and Pentagon.

Pardew said Washington "remains focused on the situation in Macedonia," even as unprecedented resources are turned toward rooting out terrorism.

Pardew is a key architect of a peace plan designed to end this country's six-month rebel insurgency by granting concessions to the ethnic Albanian minority. His message appeared designed to reach a broad audience of Balkan allies concerned that the United States would neglect international commitments in favor of a single-minded war on terror.

The peace plan commits the government to upgrade the Alba-nian language and other rights, in exchange for the surrender of 3,300 weapons by the rebels.

IRA offers to renew talks
with disarmament officials

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) -- The Irish Republican Army offered Wednesday to renew its negotiations with international disarmament officials, saying it wants to accelerate the process.

It was unclear whether the statement would influence Britain's intention to strip power this weekend from Northern Ireland's joint Catholic-Protestant government, the cornerstone of a 1998 peace accord that faces imminent collapse because of the IRA's long-standing refusal to disarm.

The IRA broke off contact last month with the disarmament commission led by Canadian Gen. John de Chastelain, who since 1997 has been waiting in vain for the IRA and outlawed Protestant groups to begin scrapping their weapons.

In Northern Ireland police charged six Protestant militants Wednesday in connection with violent protests outside a Catholic girls elementary school. Scores of Protestant residents blew whistles and shouted at parents outside Holy Cross Primary School, which is flanked by Protestant homes in northern Belfast.

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