N. Korean Denies Plans for Missile Test
MOSCOW -- A North Korean diplomat in Moscow denied reports that his country was planning to test a second ballistic missile, the Russian Tass news agency said.
The diplomat, based at the North Korean Embassy in Moscow and speaking on condition of anonymity, lashed out at Japanese plans to ask Russia to try to prevent such a test. Japan's Defense Minister Hosei Norota is due in Russia today and has said he would appeal to Russian diplomats to intervene.
Last year, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile for the first time, sending it over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean. U.S. military experts said recently that North Korea is planning to test another missile capable of reaching Alaska or Hawaii. The United States, South Korea and Japan have warned of economic and diplomatic penalties if North Korea, which relies heavily on outside aid, goes ahead with the test.
Ex-President Suharto Hospitalized in Jakarta
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Former Indonesian president Suharto was hospitalized with intestinal bleeding and may undergo surgery less than a month after he suffered a stroke, hospital sources said. Suharto, 78, was forced to quit the presidency in 1998 after a wave of violent protests and riots. Since then, he has lived in seclusion.
Vietnamese Mark Anniversary of Vision
LA VANG, Vietnam -- The social ills plaguing Vietnam can be overcome with the help of prayer, Cardinal Pham Dinh Tung told 200,000 people at the Roman Catholic Church's biggest event of the year in this Communist country.
The crowd swarmed into this village for a weekend of activities to mark the 200th anniversary of a vision of the Virgin Mary, the only one ever reported in Southeast Asia. This weekend concludes a year-long bicentennial celebration.
Fire in Bolivia Destroys Hundreds of Homes
LA PAZ, Bolivia -- Fires fueled by 65 mph winds destroyed several hundred homes and a hospital and killed at least two people in an eastern farming town, officials said.
Radio reports said President Hugo Banzer asked U.S Ambassador Donna Hrinak to deploy anti-drug helicopters and planes to help fight the blaze and fly in supplies to Ascension de Guarayos.
The town, 530 miles east of La Paz, is a farming and ranching community of 8,000 people where many of the poor live in palm leaf huts. Radio reports from the town said the fire started at a sawmill.
Army Blamed for Killings in Burundi
RUZIBA, Burundi -- Burundian villagers accused the Tutsi-dominated army of killing 74 Hutu civilians on Thursday following fierce fighting with Hutu rebels near the capital, Bujumbura.
The accusations follow similar reports of an army massacre of 147 civilians in a nearby village on Tuesday night; the army blamed those killings on the rebels.
Liberia Regains Control of Major Towns
MONROVIA, Liberia -- Liberian soldiers have regained control of all the major towns seized by rebels in fighting that caused dozens of foreign aid workers to flee the country, officials said.
Liberian forces regained control of Foya, the last major town held by the insurgents, who crossed over from Guinea earlier this week, a defense official said.
The reports came hours after 96 people, including six foreign aid workers, who were caught up in the fighting on Wednesday and held by the rebel group until late Friday, were allowed to cross the border into Guinea.
Deputy Premier Urges Milosevic to Resign
PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- A senior Yugoslav government official urged President Slobodan Milosevic to resign, as sentiment against him continues to grow.
In comments published yesterday, Tomislav Nikolic, Yugoslavia's new deputy premier called for the president's resignation "not because the West demands it, but rather because he capitulated in Kosovo." Nikolic was recently appointed as part of a government reshuffle meant to strengthen Milosevic.
Meanwhile, U.S. peacekeeping troops and forensics experts from Canada examined a grave site in the southeastern Kosovo town of Gnjilane that is thought to contain six victims of this spring's crackdown by Yugoslav forces.
Right-Wing Rally Banned in Germany
BERLIN -- As Germany mourned the death of Jewish leader Ignatz Bubis, a Nazi concentration camp survivor who became an outspoken advocate of tolerance, a small eastern town banned a rally because of fears neo-Nazis would use it to celebrate his death.
The order by authorities in Eisenach to stop the far-right party's rally illustrated how Germans are still struggling with the legacy of their country's dark past despite efforts by government and religious leaders to promote a multicultural society.
Sweden-Denmark Bridge Inaugurated
COPENHAGEN -- The heirs to the Swedish and Danish thrones exchanged kisses in the center of a new bridge that physically links Sweden to Denmark for the first time.
The 10-mile, $2.6 billion project, which also includes a tunnel, ties Copenhagen to Sweden's third-largest city, Malmoe. It will open to traffic next July.
After approaching from the opposite sides, Sweden's Crown Princess Victoria and Denmark's Crown Prince Frederik embraced 224 feet over the waterway that leads into the Baltic Sea while hundreds of boats circled underneath and blew their horns.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Iraq Reports Airstrikes in South
BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Baghdad said Western warplanes attacked sites in southern Iraq before antiaircraft defenses forced them to return to their bases in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
But spokesmen for the Defense Department in Washington and the Ministry of Defense in London denied there had been any incidents in the "no-fly" zone. On Friday, U.S. warplanes bombed Iraqi artillery and communications near Mosul, about 250 miles north of Baghdad, in response to Iraqi missile and artillery fire.
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
"Please. I want to be free."
-- Sveta Matsneva, 20, resident of an institution for the mentally disabled in Buturlinovka, Russia