The World This Week

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The Independent Online
IN PURSUIT of peace in Somalia, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, chairs talks today and tomorrow in Addis Ababa to try to end the fighting. The conflict has created a famine in which 300,000 people have died. Nine of Somalia's faction leaders, including the two main warlords in Mogadishu, have accepted invitations to attend and the remaining three groups invited are expected to turn up.

Mr Boutros-Ghali wants the gathering in the Ethiopian capital to be an informal meeting to prepare for a conference on national reconciliation in two or three months' time. It is a brave venture. In two years of clan warfare, all previous attempts to bring together the belligerents have failed.

Among those promising to attend are the two factions of the United Somali Congress, headed by Mohamed Farah Aideed in south Mogadishu, and his rival Mohamed Ali Mahdi in north Mogadishu - the country's most powerful clan chieftains. Also expected is Ahmed Omar Jess of the Somali Patriotic Movement, who is accused of ordering the killings of 200 rival clan members in the days before the US troops landed at the southern town of Kismayu last month.

The UN is paying for the conference, including travel and accommodation expenses for the clan leaders. The only condition they have imposed is that the participants come unarmed.

Also pursuing peace, the Danish Foreign Minister, Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, begins on Wednesday the first EC mission to the former Yugoslavia under the Community's new Danish presidency. He visits Slovenia and Croatia on Wednesday, Macedonia on Thursday and possibly Sarajevo in Bosnia on Friday. He will also visit Belgrade for talks with leaders of Serbia and Montenegro.

Taking up their positions on another battleground, Gatt trade negotiators make a last-ditch effort today in Geneva to clear away the obstacles to completing the Uruguay Round of world trade liberalisation. And, marking the beginning of the European Single Market, a special EC telephone hotline in Brussels operates from today until Friday to take complaints from people subjected to border checks which they believe are illegal. The organisers, the Euro-Citizen Action Service, are trying to put pressure on Britain and other EC countries to end passport checks.

The junior partner in the German ruling coalition, the Free Democratic Party, meets in Stuttgart on Wednesday and the Foreign Minister, Klaus Kinkel, is expected to stake his claim to lead the party after Otto Lambsdorff steps down in the summer. Mr Kinkel joined the party only two years ago, but he is regarded as a strong leadership contender. His chances will have been much enhanced by the sudden resignation yesterday of his main rival, Jurgen Mollemann, from his post as

Economics Minister.

A convicted child-killer, Westley Allan Dodd, is due to be hanged in Washington state tomorrow. He will be the first person since 1963 to be hanged in the US. The American Civil Liberties Union opposes the hanging, but Dodd insists he wants to be hanged, saying: 'I must be executed before I have an opportunity to escape or kill someone else.' And a federal court in Denver, Colorado, passes sentence on Friday upon Deborah Butler, who admitted trying to assassinate George Bush during his election campaign in September.

The Japanese cargo ship Akatsuki Maru is expected to reach Japan tomorrow after its controversial voyage from Europe. The ship is carrying a 1.5-ton cargo of plutonium, and environmentalists are threatening to prevent it from docking.

Finally, the moment Elvis Presley fans have been waiting for: the philatelic immortalisation of The King. In last year's Post Office ballot, more than one million Americans voted three to one in favour of a stamp that portrayed Elvis as a youthful rock star - rather than as a jewel-encrusted crooner - and more than 300 million 29-cent stamps go on sale at the Post Office opposite Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, on Friday.

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