N. Korea Willing to Free Detained American

North Korea is ready to release a U.S. citizen it has detained for a month, a spokesman for Sen. Robert G. Torricelli (D-N.J.) said.

Garment maker Karen Han had been in North Korea to help build a hospital when she was arrested on June 17 on a charge of "insulting local officials." Li Gun, deputy head of North Korea's mission to the United Nations, "called the senator late Friday afternoon to tell him Han would be let out . . . within three days," the spokesman, Richard McGrath, said.


Mexican Court Reduces Salinas's Sentence

TOLUCA, Mexico -- An appeals court yesterday reduced the murder sentence of Raul Salinas de Gortari, brother of a former president, nearly cutting in half his 50-year term for ordering a political rival killed.

Salinas, 52, brother of former president Carlos Salinas de Gortari, was sentenced today to 27 1/2 years in prison for masterminding the 1994 killing of Jose Francisco Ruiz Massieu, a leader of the long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party and his former brother-in-law.

The ruling, announced by a court in Toluca, west of Mexico City, came hours after Switzerland's top court overturned the confiscation of $114.4 million linked to Raul Salinas. The money remains frozen.

Suriname's Ex-Leader Convicted in Absentia

THE HAGUE -- A Dutch court sentenced Suriname's former military leader, Desi Bouterse, of cocaine trafficking, sentencing him in absentia to 16 years in prison and a $2.18 million fine.

The court ruled that Bouterse was the linchpin of a Surinamese cartel that attempted to smuggle nearly two tons of cocaine seized at Dutch and Belgian ports and airports between 1989 and 1997.

Brazilian President Shuffles His Cabinet

BRASILIA -- Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso announced a broad cabinet shake-up in a bid to boost his flagging popularity and end squabbling among his fractious allies.

The president said he was naming his close friend and chief of staff, Clovis Carvalho, to head the Development, Industry and Commerce Ministry, replacing Celso Lafer. Budget Minister Pedro Parente would replace Carvalho as chief of staff.


Security Fear Reportedly Derailed Cohen Trip

Defense Secretary William S. Cohen canceled a trip to Albania this week after U.S. officials determined that supporters of Saudi-born bombing suspect Osama bin Laden were seeking to strike a "high-profile target," ABC News reported. But a Pentagon spokesman said security was a secondary concern and that Cohen chose to visit Bosnia because it has 6,000 U.S. troops, 10 times as many as Albania.

Libya Compensates '89 Crash Victims' Kin

PARIS -- Libya has given $33 million to France to be distributed to relatives of victims of the 1989 bombing of a French passenger jet, the French Foreign Ministry said.

A French court in March convicted six Libyans in absentia on charges of masterminding and carrying out the Sept. 19, 1989, bombing of UTA Flight 772. The jetliner, en route to Paris from Congo Republic, exploded over Niger, killing all 170 on board.


Annan Urges Swift U.N. Mission to Congo

UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended that the Security Council immediately approve sending 90 military officers to Congo to prepare for a larger U.N. peacekeeping operation.

In his report, Annan acknowledged that Congolese rebels have refused to sign a cease-fire agreement and that any U.N. deployment in the vast African nation would be "beset by risks." But he described the signing July 10 of the cease-fire pact by the six countries involved -- Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia, Rwanda and Uganda -- as a "major first step towards an eventual recovery."

Sierra Leone Lawmakers Approve Peace Deal

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone -- Sierra Leone's parliament has adopted an accord signed by the government and rebels to end civil war in the West African country, state radio said.

It said lawmakers had voted unanimously on Thursday in favor of the deal, signed in Togo on July 7 by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah and rebel leader Foday Sankoh. Many politicians had opposed the pact's provision for power-sharing with Sankoh's Revolutionary United Front, blamed for widespread atrocities against civilians.


Senior Cleric Calls for Accord in Iran

TEHRAN -- Iran's rival mainstream factions must agree on the limits of political debate to avoid a repeat of this week's civil unrest, a senior cleric said.

Ayatollah Hasan Taheri-Khorramabadi said at a prayer gathering in Tehran that all leading groups supported supreme clerical rule but had allowed their differences to spin out of control, paving the way for the past week's pro-democracy protests.

U.S. Warplanes Strike Iraqi Installation

ANKARA, Turkey -- U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi communications installation in the northern "no-fly" zone after being fired on by Iraqi antiaircraft artillery, the U.S. military said.

Air Force F-16s dropped laser-guided bombs on the communications facility, used to relay radar information to target U.S. aircraft, according to the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany.


MOSCOW -- Russia launched a cargo ship to the Mir space station, just two days after resolving a dispute with Kazakhstan over the use of a launching site in that Central Asian republic.

MALIANA, East Timor -- Following weeks of violence, uncertainty and delay, U.N. workers began registering voters for an August ballot to determine the future of the restive province of East Timor.

TOKYO -- Japan became the first country in a decade to legally import ivory, unloading 50 tons of elephant tusks from southern Africa at a Tokyo harbor under U.N. supervision.

QUITO, Ecuador -- Taxi, bus and truck drivers ended an 11-day national strike after the government agreed to roll back a gas price increase.


"If they still want to fight, we are ready. But if it's peace, we welcome it."

Kunal Gurung, 22, an Indian soldier