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Czech-in key

Prague, Czech Republic � Japan's Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko received a key to the city Sunday during their official visit to the Czech capital.

"Let me present you with the key to the town, which you may need when you come for your next visit here," deputy Mayor Petr Svec told the imperial couple.

The emperor and empress laid a wreath at a statue of the nation's patron saint, St. Wenceslas, in Prague's central Wenceslas Square, and visited the historical Old Town Hall in the old district of Prague.

Prague is the first stop on the Japanese guests' two-week tour of four European countries.

Dalai Lama biding time

Split, Croatia � The Dalai Lama said Sunday that if China wants to play an important role globally, it should become a democracy and loosen its hold on Tibet.

"And that's where Tibet sees its chance," the exiled Tibetan leader told reporters in this southern Croatian city, on the second day of his visit to Croatia.

The Dalai Lama is on a four-day visit to Croatia, but the government does not want to see him, evidently trying to avoid problems with China.

While he said he could not foresee when it would be possible for him to return to Tibet, he said: "Time is on Tibet's side."

Jewel goes back to school

Interlochen, Mich. � Toward the end of her senior year at Interlochen Arts Academy, Jewel Kilcher invited voice instructor Nicole Philibosian to hear her sing at a coffee bar.

"I sat there with tears streaming down my face," Philibosian said. "Such a straight-from-the-heart performance, such absolute confidence in an 18-year-old kid. ... I really knew this was a star in the making."

A decade later, the "kid" is known simply as Jewel, one of the biggest names in pop-folk music. In a triumphant homecoming, she performed Friday at sold-out Kresge Auditorium after talking shop with a small group of awe-struck youths at Interlochen's summer arts camp.

She drew laughs by admitting she'd gotten drunk for the first and only time while a student � "It cured me of it" � and that she hated the uniforms.

Queen statue commissioned

London � A sculpture of Queen Elizabeth II on horseback has been commissioned to mark her Golden Jubilee, royal officials said.

The 12 1/2-foot work, cast in bronze by sculptor Philip Jackson, will go on display, probably by the end of 2003, in Windsor Great Park west of London, officials said Friday. It has been commissioned by the Crown Estate, which manages the royal properties, including Windsor Castle.

Buckingham Palace said it was the 12th official sculpture to be made of the queen � a keen equestrian � during her 50-year reign. The works stand in official buildings in Commonwealth countries and public buildings in Britain.

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