An Associated Press item in the July 30 World in Brief column erroneously quoted India's minister of oil and gas, V.K. Ramamurthy, as saying his country was prepared to violate U.N. trade sanctions against Iraq by extending a $25 million loan for the purchase of 1,000 Indian buses. (Published 08/05/1999)

EUROPE

Sinn Fein Seeks Talks With Unionists

BELFAST -- Sinn Fein, Northern Ireland's leading republican party, will seek direct talks with the main Protestant unionist party in an effort to resolve an impasse that has blocked the formation of Northern Ireland's new regional government, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said yesterday.

Sinn Fein has not decided, however, whether it will participate in a formal review of the Northern Ireland peace process, Adams said.

The Ulster Unionist Party, the largest party in Northern Ireland, has refused to sit with Sinn Fein in the cabinet-style administration unless the Roman Catholic party's paramilitary ally, the Irish Republican Army, begins disarming. It has refused to do so.

Ordered Off Plane, Man Goes for Officer's Gun

HAMBURG, Germany -- A U.S. citizen ordered off a flight from Hamburg to London grabbed an airport police officer's gun and tried to shoot the officer and himself, police said in a statement.

The man, identified only as Roderick W., 32, was taken into custody pending charges.

The man had become enraged when he found out the plane would be landing at Heathrow airport, not Gatwick. The pilot ordered him off the plane, which was still at the gate. Border patrol officers were escorting him back to the terminal when he grabbed a gun out of an officer's holster. The man aimed it at the officer, then at himself, pulling the trigger twice each time, but the gun did not fire.

Britain Must Pay for Sex Change Operations

LONDON -- Britain's taxpayer-funded National Health Service must pay for sex-change operations for three men who want to become women, an appeals court said.

The court said the refusal by the government health service to pay for the operations was unlawful because the three should have been treated as disease sufferers and not people seeking cosmetic surgery.

ASIA

Bin Laden Reportedly Leaving Afghanistan

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Saudi-born militant Osama bin Laden has decided to leave Afghanistan because he fears a U.S. attack against him, the independent Afghan Islamic Press reported today.

The Pakistan-based news agency quoted what it said were sources close to bin Laden as saying he would seek sanctuary outside Afghanistan, where he has been living as a "guest" of the ruling Taliban movement. The United States fired cruise missiles at suspected bin Laden training camps in Afghanistan last year in retaliation for the bombings of U.S. embassies in East Africa that Washington has blamed on bin Laden.

Suicide Bombing Kills Sri Lankan Lawmaker

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka -- A suicide bomber leaped onto a car as it traveled through busy intersection yesterday, detonating explosives strapped to his body and killing a moderate Sri Lankan politician.

Neelan Tiruchelvam, a member of the moderate Tamil United Liberation Front party and head of a research center studying ethnic strife between the dominant Sinhalese and the Tamil minority, was killed instantly. No one claimed immediate responsibility, but officials blamed the Liberation Tigers for Tamil Eelam, who are fighting for an independent Tamil homeland.

Blackout Hits Taiwan; China Link Ruled Out

TAIPEI -- Taiwan suffered its worst electrical outage in decades, an island-wide blackout that affected key industries.

The cause of the blackout was under investigation, but the armed forces swiftly ruled out any link to a tense sovereignty dispute with China, noting that all military command and communication systems were operating normally on independent power supplies.

3-Year-Old Released by Burmese Authorities

BANGKOK Burmese officials freed a 3-year-old girl described as the world s youngest prisoner of conscience, Amnesty International said.

The girl, Thaint Wunna Khin, was one of 19 people detained earlier this month by authorities to stop an anti-government protest in the central city of Bago, according to Amnesty and an exile opposition group. Amnesty said it had learned that the girl was held for five days, then was released July 23.

THE AMERICAS

Search for Bodies Continues in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Rescue teams battled through dense fog and thick jungle as they searched for the last three bodies of a crew of seven who died when a U.S. reconnaissance plane slammed into a mountainside in Colombia. Four bodies -- all U.S. soldiers, including a woman -- were recovered from the crash site Wednesday about 7,000 feet up a mountain. But a Colombian air force spokeswoman said there was still no sign of the remains of a fifth American or two Colombian air force majors.

Brazil's Truckers End Paralyzing Strike

RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's truckers agreed to end a four-day strike that had paralyzed the country after the government promised to suspend a planned hike in road tolls.

The deal, which was reached after two days of talks, included government pledges to step up security on Brazil's roads and better maintain federal highways. The strike, involving thousands of truckers, caused severe food and gas shortages across Brazil, which is heavily dependent on trucks to transport about 60 percent of its cargo.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Barak, Mubarak Confer on Wye Agreement

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and tried to persuade him to press Palestinians to agree to a delay in Israel's promised handover of more West Bank land.

But Barak said after talks in Alexandria that he would implement the U.S.-brokered Wye River land-for-security deal -- signed and suspended by his predecessor, Binyamin Netanyahu -- if the Palestinians continued to oppose its modification.

Mubarak told their joint news conference: "I think Barak is intent on implementing the agreement and he has not said, `I will change the agreement,' but that he will implement it. . . . It might be delayed two or three weeks. It's no problem."

Indian Loan to Iraq Breaks U.N. Embargo

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- India will extend a $25 million loan to Iraq in a deal that violates U.N. trade sanctions imposed on Iraq for invading Kuwait in 1990, India's oil minister said.

The credit agreement is the first of its kind since the U.N. embargo was imposed, prohibiting unauthorized financial dealings with the country. V.K. Ramamurthy, India's minister of oil and gas, acknowledged the grant would violate U.N. sanctions.

Iraq Says Air Strikes Kill Eight

BAGHDAD, Iraq Western air strikes killed eight civilians in southern Iraq, an Iraqi military spokesman said.

Iraqi television showed pictures of a funeral procession for the eight dead in Kut, the capital of Wasit province 100 miles south of Baghdad.

Britain s Defense Ministry confirmed that Western planes launched air strikes in response to threats from the ground but said it had no report yet of what they hit.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Some Serbs need to face the fact that they are in a deep, deep hole that they dug themselves."

a U.S. official in Kosovo -- Page A23