Russia seeks time

on Kosovo plan

VIENNA - Russia is pressing for more time to examine a U.N. proposal for the future of Kosovo, Western and Russian officials said yesterday, underscoring a widening rift between Moscow - a key ally of Serbia - and the United States and its European allies.

"Russia wants a longer period" to consider the plan, which U.N. special envoy Martti Ahtisaari presented in Vienna, a Western official said.

Russia is a traditional ally of Serbia, which considers Kosovo the heart of its ancient homeland and insists that it remain part of Serbian territory. Kosovo's ethnic Albanian majority has been pushing for outright independence.

The U.N. Security Council will have the final say on Ahtisaari's plan, which the former Finnish president will formally present to both sides Friday. Moscow's apparent misgivings - and its veto power at the United Nations - have raised the possibility of a diplomatic showdown with the United States, which backs the province's drive for statehood. - AP
Canada to pay man

it wrongly accused

TORONTO - The prime minister apologized yesterday to a Syrian-born Canadian and said he would be compensated $8.9 million for Ottawa's role in his deportation by U.S. authorities to Syria, where he was imprisoned for nearly a year and tortured.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper again called on Washington to remove Maher Arar from its no-fly and terrorist watch lists. He reiterated that Canada would keep pressing the United States to clear Arar's name.

Arar was exonerated in September after a two-year public inquiry led by Associate Chief Justice of Ontario Dennis O'Connor. It found that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police wrongly labeled Arar an Islamic fundamentalist and passed misleading and inaccurate information to U.S. authorities. - AP

Beirut on edge

as curfew is lifted

BEIRUT - Lebanese soldiers reinforced checkpoints and maintained a heavy presence in tense neighborhoods yesterday, lifting a rare nighttime curfew that had been imposed to stop the worsening violence between pro- and antigovernment crowds.

The curfew was imposed after a fight between Sunnis and Shiites at a university cafeteria grew into rioting and gunfire that left four people dead and 200 injured Thursday.

Slowly, the city came back to life as cleaners removed piles of debris, broken glass and bullet castings from the streets around Beirut Arab University. Dozens of smashed and burned cars were towed away. - N.Y. Times News Service

Elsewhere:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appealed to NATO allies yesterday to do more to help Afghanistan, and placed a hefty U.S. aid increase to $10.6 billion on the table as an incentive.

Norway's government yesterday proposed lifting a national ban on using human embryonic stem cells for research, saying the change might help find cures for a range of diseases. Current Norwegian law, from 2003, bars use of fertilized eggs or their stem cells in research.