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News Briefs, Part 2

U.S. Ready to Help N. Korea Develop Economic Ties

Los Angeles Times
ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska

Extending a new olive branch to North Korea, the Clinton administration indicated Monday that it is prepared to support the development of economic ties between the Pyongyang regime and the rest of Asia.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher gave U.S. backing to a new initiative by South Korean President Kim Young Sam, who said in a speech Monday that he would lift the ban on South Korean business contacts with North Korea. The South Korean president also said he would give the green light for North Korea to develop economic ties with the rest of Asia.

"As a long-term goal, it is entirely appropriate," Christopher told reporters aboard his plane on the first leg of an 11-day trip to Asia. He said the United States hopes to bring North Korea "into the company of civilized nations and to show them the opportunities that go with better relations."

Suggesting that North Korea may eventually get membership in region-wide organizations marks a new step for the Clinton administration, which had agreed in the past only to exchange diplomatic liaison offices with the Pyongyang regime. North Korea is not now a member of any of the East Asian regional organizations.

Christopher acknowledged Monday that the United States has many outstanding problems with North Korea, including thsoe related to terrorism and weapons proliferation.

Court Lets Stand Illinois Decision Awarding Boy to Biological Father

The Washington Post
CHICAGO

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand Monday an emotion-charged Illinois decision to remove a 3 1/2-year-old boy from the home of his adoptive parents and award custody to his biological father. The decision immediately set off a new round of legal battles over a state law that was enacted specifically to keep the child with the adoptive parents.

The high court ruling, made without comment, effectively affirmed a unanimous decision by the Illinois Supreme Court in June in what has become known as the "Baby Richard" case. The Illinois justices, overturning lower court findings, ruled that the biological father, Otakar Kirchner, had not surrendered his parental rights and nullified the 1991 adoption of the boy.

The case, one of several recent high profile disputes between biological and adoptive parents, caused an uproar here and attracted national attention. It also led to the hurried enactment by the Illinois General Assembly of a law requiring a court hearing on the child's "best interest" to determine if the child should be returned to the biological parents, which was the case under previous law, or remain in the custody of the couple who sought adoption. The law appeared Monday to represent the adoptive parents' last hope of retaining custody of the boy, who was turned over to them by the biological mother when he was four days old. But even if the adoptive parents, who have been identified only as "John and Jane Doe," are eventually awarded custody, Monday's Supreme Court decision means they could never legally adopt the child without the biological father's consent.