New Food Crisis Closes Belgian Pig Farms

BRUSSELS -- Belgium's new prime minister tried to allay fears of a new tainted-food crisis after the Health Ministry said yesterday it would close 200 pig farms because of suspected dioxin contamination.

Following reports that contamination was more widespread than expected, the Health Ministry said pork products with a fat content between 2 percent and 20 percent will be withdrawn from the market, extending a current ban on pork with more than 20 percent fat.

"This way the population will no longer be exposed to possible dioxin contamination," the ministry said. However, the measure had not been formally adopted by the cabinet, which met to consider the new restrictions.

Belarus Opposition Leader Flees Country

MINSK, Belarus -- Semyon Sharetsky, an opposition leader and speaker of the parliament disbanded by President Alexander Lukashenko in 1996, has fled Belarus fearing for his safety, said a source close to Sharetsky. He said Sharetsky left Thursday but declined to say where he had gone. Sharetsky's colleagues in parliament, whose dissolution was not recognized by many Western governments, said after Lukashenko's five-year term expired this week that Sharetsky should be regarded as the legitimate head of state.

Mir Cosmonauts Unable to Deploy Antenna

KOROLYOV, Russia Two Russian cosmonauts struggled in vain for hours to deploy an antenna during a spacewalk from the orbiting Mir station, officials said. Cosmonauts Viktor Afanasyev and Sergei Avdeyev spent six hours outside the aging station as Frenchman Jean-Pierre Haignere stayed inside and videotaped their efforts. The Russians tried to install a Russian-Georgian communications antenna the two countries hoped to use on satellites, but the device failed to unfold properly and will be dumped.

EU, Ukraine Sign Nuclear Agreements

KIEV, Ukraine The European Union promised Ukraine up to $143 million to strengthen banking and financial systems and signed two nuclear agreements with the former Soviet republic at a summit. The agreements concerned nuclear safety and research and were expected to boost EU-Ukrainian cooperation in radiation protection, decommissioning of nuclear devices and atomic science, officials said.


Guatamelans Say Prosecutor Lost Evidence

GUATEMALA CITY -- Church officials in Guatemala accused a former prosecutor of losing evidence they say could help solve the 1998 killing of a Roman Catholic bishop and human rights crusader.

Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi was killed two days after he presented an exhaustive report blaming the military for most human rights violations in the country's 36-year civil war.

Mynor Melgar, legal coordinator for the Archbishop's Human Rights Office, said he had asked Guatemala's Public Prosecutors Office on Tuesday to investigate former prosecutor, Otto Ardon, after evidence including military records disappeared.

Alleged Chief of Drug Gang Pleads Not Guilty

MIAMI -- The reputed leader of one of the nation's most notorious drug gangs pleaded not guilty to 62 federal charges, including murder and racketeering, in an indictment returned 11 years ago. Vivian Blake allegedly ran the Shower Posse, a Jamaican-dominated gang that prosecutors say was responsible for 1,400 murders during the 1980s. Blake was extradited from Jamaica on July 8.


Suharto Still Needs Treatment, Doctor Says

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- The doctor supervising the stroke treatment of former Indonesian president Suharto played down suggestions he might leave the hospital quickly. After briefing President B.J. Habibie on his predecessor's condition, Ibrahim Ginting also said that Suharto was unlikely to be flown out of the country for further treatment.

World s Oldest Giant Panda in Captivity Dies

BEIJING Dudu, the world s oldest giant panda in captivity, has died in a zoo in central China s Hubei province, the state-run New China News Agency said. Hot summer weather may have contributed to the 37-year-old panda s death Thursday in Wuhan, the agency said.


U.S. Envoy Stops in Ethiopia, Eritrea

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia -- U.S. special envoy Anthony Lake and other foreign mediators met with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi to resolve disputes that have held up a plan to end a 14-month border war with Eritrea. The Horn of Africa nations, which have been at war since May 1998 over contested areas of their 620-mile shared border, have accepted a peace plan drafted last year by the Organization of African Unity. But the countries disagree over its interpretation.

Kenyan Leader Taps Leakey for Key Post

NAIROBI -- Under pressure from donors to straighten out Kenya's economic mess, President Daniel arap Moi made key changes in his administration, putting paleontologist Richard Leakey in charge of the civil service. Leakey, the head of the Kenya Wildlife Service, was named secretary of the cabinet and permanent secretary in charge of the bloated public service.

Salary Story Leads to Ban on Tabloid

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania The government has imposed a seven-day ban on Tanzania s leading tabloid for publishing a story on government raises, an official said. Senior Information Officer Raphael Hokororo said the offending article in Majira was, aimed at fanning discontent and hatred among the people towards the government.


Seized Kurd Appears in Turkish Court

ANKARA, Turkey -- A suspected Kurdish rebel appeared in a Turkish court, two days after being seized by Turkish agents and flown to Ankara to face charges of organizing separatist activity. Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said Wednesday that special forces had captured Cevat Soysal in an unidentified European country.


"I think the government is pretty determined that we need our own independent deterrent against North Korea."

Lho Kyong Soo, a professor at Seoul National University