EUROPE

Former Prime Minister Calls on Yeltsin to Quit

MOSCOW -- Former prime minister Sergei Kiriyenko said yesterday that Russian President Boris Yeltsin should resign before his term ends next summer.

In the strongest public comments made so far by one of Yeltsin's former prime ministers, Kiriyenko, a liberal, said the president's resignation should be part of a process of handing power back to the Russian people from the politicians.

Interfax news agency quoted Kiriyenko as saying Yeltsin, who has been in poor health in recent years, should step down in October, before elections in December for the lower house of parliament.

EU Takes Legal Action Over Belgian Food

BRUSSELS -- The European Commission launched legal action against Belgium for its handling of the crisis over dioxin in food.

The European Union started legal proceedings on the grounds that Belgium had not given member states enough warning of a potential hazard and then took insufficient action to safeguard public health once a danger emerged.

The EU's legal challenge, known as an infringement procedure, initially takes the form of a letter to the government, which then has 10 days to reply. Further written exchanges could ultimately give rise to a ruling from the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice.

Three More Arrests in Omagh Bombing Case

DUBLIN -- Irish police said they arrested two women and a man in connection with last year's Omagh bombing that killed 29 people and injured 200. The three arrests, made in towns close to the border with Northern Ireland, brought the total number detained on both sides of the border since Sunday to 13.

Irish police said the two women were arrested yesterday in the countries of Cavan and Monaghan, while a man in his twenties was arrested earlier in Dundalk. They gave no further details.

THE AMERICAS

U.S., Cuba Hold Talks on Fighting Drugs

HAVANA -- The United States and Cuba held talks on ways of improving coordination in the fight against drug trafficking.

Officials from the State Department and Coast Guard met their Cuban counterparts in Havana to discuss "operational concerns and procedures relating to drug interdiction," according to a U.S. official in Havana who asked not to be identified. The U.S. side was led by Michael Kozak, head of the interests section in Cuba.

Diplomats familiar with the situation stressed that the talks did not herald a shift in U.S.-Cuban relations, which have remained generally hostile since the 1959 Cuban Revolution.

Earthquake Hits Mexico City; 2nd in a Week

MEXICO CITY -- Buildings swayed and workers swarmed into the streets of the capital as the second earthquake in a week hit Mexico.

Some 700 homes were reported damaged near the epicenter of the quake, a sparsely populated mountain area 165 miles southwest of Mexico City, according to the U.S. Geological Survey in Golden, Colo. The agency estimated the quake's magnitude at 5.7 on the open-ended Richter Scale. Last Tuesday's quake measured 6.7.

THE MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Planes Hit Targets in North, South Iraq

ANKARA, Turkey -- U.S. warplanes bombed Iraqi air defense sites in response to Iraqi fire in the northern and southern "no-fly" zones, U.S. military officials said.

U.S. Air Force F-16s and F-15s dropped bombs on an Iraqi command and control site near Mosul, 250 miles north of Baghdad, the U.S. European Command said. In southern Iraq, U.S. Navy F-18s bombed two Iraqi surface-to-air missile sites near Samawah, about 150 miles south of Baghdad, officials said.

Iran Acts Against General's Suspected Killers

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iranian security forces killed one dissident and arrested others in connection with the assassination of a senior general, Iranian television said.

Those arrested were suspected of involvement in the April 10 killing of Brig. Gen. Ali Sayyad Shirazi, deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, the report said, quoting information minister Ali Yunesi.

Yunesi described the suspects as "hypocrites" -- a common euphemism for the Iraq-based People's Mujaheddin. The group, which is fighting to oust Iran's clerical government, claimed responsibility for killing Shirazi, a senior army commander in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war.

ASIA

U.N. Envoy Questions East Timor Referendum

DILI, East Timor -- As the first U.N. police advisers came to East Timor to supervise a referendum on independence, a senior U.N. official said he was not certain the vote would be held.

"I don't know about the possibility of a delay to the referendum. We don't even know that there is going to be a referendum," said Jamsheed Marker, the U.N. envoy on East Timor.

There has been growing speculation that the United Nations would postpone the Aug. 8 balloting by several weeks because of violence that has killed dozens of civilians. The vote would give East Timorese a choice between autonomy within Indonesia or independence.

Taiwan's Leader Urges Recognition by China

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's president demanded that China recognize Taiwan as an equal in his state of the nation address, which covered familiar ground and drew criticism from opposition party members who favor government reform.

President Lee Teng-hui's address to the National Assembly reviewed his achievements in democratization and asserting Taiwan's de facto independent status in the world.

Meanwhile, Taiwan said it would send a delegation led by a senior official to Beijing on Sunday to lay groundwork for a high-level exchange between the arch-rivals later this year.

Cloning May Help Save Panda, Chinese Report

BEIJING -- Chinese scientists have produced an embryo of a giant panda through cloning technology, a breakthrough that could save the endangered animal, the China Daily said today.

It said scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences had introduced cells of a dead female panda into the egg cells of a Japanese white rabbit and the embryo was nurtured successfully.

The next step would be to place the embryo in the womb of a host animal. If it survived, the first cloned panda would be created.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We are not interested in building a criminal society, but a modern civil society."

Kosovo Liberation Army political leader

Hashim Thaqi -- Page A1