ASIA

Asian Conference Ends Amid High Tensions

SINGAPORE -- Asian foreign ministers wrapped up a session with their Pacific and European counterparts yesterday with tensions still high over a new China-Taiwan conflict, prospects of a North Korean missile test and lingering financial uncertainties.

The foreign ministers of the United States, Japan and South Korea issued a joint appeal for North Korea to abandon its missile program. Even China, North Korea's traditional ally, joined in a resolution urging North Korean restraint.

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright raised yet another concern, making a pitch for cleaning up the environment in the region. She cited "pollution from uncontrolled forest, peat and coal seam fires."

"There is no more basic a human right than the right to breathe. But the haze has sometimes made exercising this right a dangerous proposition," she said on the final day of a meeting hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

17 Dead in Indonesian Sectarian Violence

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Clashes between Muslim and Christian gangs in eastern Indonesia and attacks by separatist rebels in the far west left 17 people dead.

Mobs rampaged in Ambon, the capital of the Maluku archipelago, looting and setting ablaze dozens of shops in sectarian violence between Christian and Muslim residents, officials and witnesses said.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Ayatollah Visits Tehran Riot's Wounded

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, met with about 30 students who were injured in the recent protests in Iran, Iranian television reported.

The broadcast, monitored in Dubai, showed Khamenei embracing and kissing the students, some of whom had bandages covering their eyes and heads. Khamenei led the students in prayer before discussing the protests, which left three people dead and more than 200 injured.

U.S. Jets Bomb Iraqi Air Defenses

ANKARA, Turkey -- U.S. jets patrolling the "no-fly" zone over northern Iraq bombed defense sites after coming under Iraqi antiaircraft fire, the U.S. military said.

Air Force F-15s and F-16s dropped laser-guided bombs on command and control sites south of Mosul and antiaircraft artillery sites southeast of Mosul, the U.S. European Command reported. Mosul is 200 miles north of Baghdad, the Iraqi capital.

Kuwaiti Crown Prince Snubs Arafat

KUWAIT CITY -- Kuwait's crown prince refused to shake hands with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat when they attended the funeral of Morocco's King Hassan on Sunday, Kuwaiti newspapers said.

Arafat approached Saad Abdullah Sabah in Rabat with his hand extended, but the Kuwaiti crown prince rejected his hand and criticized him for supporting Iraq during its 1990-91 occupation of Kuwait, the newspapers said. "Please do not greet me," Saad, who is also Kuwait's prime minister, was quoted by al-Watan newspaper as telling Arafat. "I will not greet you. What you have done against Kuwait and its people is not a small thing."

EUROPE

Italians Rescue Serbian Gypsies From Sea

OTRANTO, Italy -- Italian police said they rescued 60 Gypsy migrants from Serbia, over half of them children, after smugglers dumped them into the sea as their ship neared Italy's southern coast.

Gianluca Greco, chief of border police in Oranto, said the ship was carrying Gypsies from Serbia, 39 of them minors and 21 adults, and had sailed from the Albanian port of Vlore. "The ship couldn't get close enough to dock because of cliffs, so the smugglers threw the people out," Greco said.

18 Tourists Die in Accident in Switzerland

INTERLAKEN, Switzerland -- Disaster struck tourists on a hazardous "canyoning" expedition near this Swiss resort, killing 18 and injuring six.

Swiss radio reported that one of the injured was in critical condition and said there could be several foreigners, including Americans and Asians, among the dead.

Police called off the search for a missing member of the group early today and gave no information on the victims.

Canyoning, a new adventure sport, involves swimming and sliding downstream in fast-flowing rivers wearing wet suits and helmets, and often using ropes. It is considered dangerous at the best of times but is popular with tourists. Officials refused to speculate on the specific cause of the accident.

Ukraine Offers Russia Bombers to Pay Debt

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine has offered to pay part of its energy debts to Russia with 10 strategic heavy bombers, Interfax-Ukraine news agency said.

It quoted Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk as saying 10 of the 44 Tupolev-160 and Tupolev-95 bombers owned by Ukraine could be transferred to Russia. Kuzmuk said each plane would count for more than $25 million of debt, but did not give an exact figure.

Russian Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin failed to fully resolve the issue of Ukraine's estimated $1.8 billion debt to Russia during a visit to Kiev this month.

AFRICA

Police Arrest 150 in Nigerian Ethnic Riots

KANO, Nigeria -- Police in the northern Nigerian city of Kano said they had arrested 150 people after bloody riots that have inflamed ethnic tension in Africa's most populous nation.

But the return of calm to the mostly-Hausa city of one million has failed to stem the exodus of ethnic Yorubas, who were targeted in violence that has cost at least 70 lives since Thursday.

Fighting broke out following the return home of wounded Hausa Muslims from southwestern Shagamu, a largely Yoruba town where at least 60 people died last week after the killing of a Hausa woman for watching forbidden local rites.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Now the party tells me I'm misguided. But after all they've done to me, I have to say my faith is with Falun Gong."

Wang, a member of the Falun Gong spiritual movement and the Chinese Communist Party

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