EUROPE

Holbrooke Praises U.N. Efforts in Kosovo

PRISTINA, Yugoslavia -- Emphasizing the magnitude of rebuilding Kosovo, Richard Holbrooke, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, yesterday commended U.N. peace efforts and stressed the need to work toward a multi-ethnic and democratic society.

Calling Kosovo "the ultimate test of the U.N.'s capability and potential," Holbrooke underlined the complexity of the problems that continue to plague the Serbian province, 2 1/2 months after the arrival of international peacekeepers.

"This place has been a mess for a long time, but a different kind of mess. The war was messy, the decade that preceded the war was messy, the history back to 1912 was messy . . . and the task is immense," said Holbrooke, following a meeting with Bernard Kouchner, the top U.N. official in Kosovo.

Russian Troops, Militants Clash in Dagestan

MAKHACHKALA, Russia -- Russian troops clashed with militants after government forces tried to confiscate weapons in a Dagestani village where Islamic fundamentalists have imposed strict religious laws.

Russian helicopters fired rockets at the rebels outside Karamakhi, about 50 miles east of the mountain villages where government troops and Islamic rebels battled for more than two weeks earlier this month. Several Russian troops were wounded, the Interior Ministry said, without giving specific figures.

Karamakhi was not involved in the earlier fighting. However, it is considered the center of Islamic fundamentalism in the region, and for the past year members of the Wahhabi sect have been running the village according to their strict interpretation of Islamic law.

ASIA

Taiwan Nationalists Pick Candidate

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's Nationalists nominated Vice President Lien Chan to succeed President Lee Teng-hui and moved delicately to back Lee's controversial new affirmation of Taiwanese sovereignty without stoking a war of words with China.

Debate at a weekend party convention was lively between Lee supporters and members of the party's more conservative pro-China wing, who view the president's July 9 call for "state-to-state" relations with China as an unnecessary provocation of Beijing.

Ultimately, the issue was pushed to the sidelines as the badly divided party sought to convey the appearance of unity behind the ticket of Lien and vice presidential running mate Vincent Siew.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Toll From Turkish Quake Rises to 14,095

BURSA, Turkey -- The death toll from Turkey's massive earthquake rose to 14,095 yesterday with thousands of people still missing, most believed buried in collapsed buildings.

State-run television resumed normal programming for the first time since the Aug. 17 quake, showing a movie. Up until then, it had featured nonstop quake coverage.

But with cooler weather approaching, officials said displaced people must be moved out of soggy makeshift tents and into warm, winterized shelters.

"The weather is getting cold -- how long can people live in the tent cities? If you think of people's health, these tents have to be emptied," Health Ministry official Haluk Tokupcoglu said.

Twelve days after the quake, there was almost no chance of finding anyone alive under the rubble, but survivors and rescuers continued to hold out hope. Uzbek and Turkish rescuers rushed late Saturday to a collapsed building in Adapazari and worked for 12 hours after a report of possible signs of life. But their search was fruitless.

Israelis, Palestinians Try to Reach Accord

JERUSALEM -- One of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's senior envoys met with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in an urgent attempt to reach agreement on implementing the Wye River accord before Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright arrives later this week.

Barak warned that if Israeli and Palestinian negotiators fail to close a deal "within hours," he could carry out the U.S.-brokered accord unilaterally and as he sees fit.

The statement issued by Barak's office said the Palestinians were not providing "satisfactory answers" on two issues: a timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from parts of the West Bank and the release of Palestinians in Israeli prisons.

U.S. Congressional Staff Members Visit Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Five U.S. congressional staff members ignored State Department objections by beginning a fact-finding mission to Iraq, the first such journey since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

A U.S. travel ban makes visits to Iraq difficult, but group members got around the ban by not technically using their passports. They carried special papers with their passports for recording their entry and departure.

Still, it was clear the Clinton administration was not pleased about the visit. No U.S. Embassy staff received the group on its arrival Saturday in Amman, Jordan, as is customary, and embassy officials there disavowed anything to do with the five-day mission.

FOR THE RECORD

SRINAGAR, India -- Eight people, including five militants, were killed in 24 hours in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan -- President Askar Akayev vowed to take all possible measures against guerrillas holding 16 hostages, including four Japanese geologists, in the remote south of his mountainous country.

JERUSALEM -- The Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Yigal Amir, prime minister Yitzhak Rabin's assassin, to overturn a conspiracy conviction he received along with his brother and a friend, choosing instead to lengthen his sentence from five years to eight.

HAMBURG, Germany -- The remains of Adolf Hitler's secretary and top aide, Martin Bormann, were buried in the Baltic Sea two weeks ago to prevent a memorial site in Germany, Der Spiegel magazine said.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"You get hate when someone is not open with you. But once you talk openly, you don't have any hate for each other."

Celestine, a Tutsi who has admitted taking part in the killing of Hutus in Burundi -- Page A1