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News Briefs I

US and Russia Compromise Improves Prospect of Global Test-Ban Treaty

Los Angeles Times
JAKARTA, Indonesia

Prospects for a global treaty banning nuclear weapon tests got a major boost here Tuesday with a joint statement by Russia and the United States calling for a compromise treaty draft to be approved as it is now written.

"The Russian Federation and the United States are prepared to support the draft treaty on the comprehensive banning of nuclear tests as it was proposed although it does not fully satisfy both sides," the two countries said in a statement read to reporters by Russian Foreign Minister Yevgeny M. Primakov.

The statement urged other nations to support the treaty, as is, without more negotiations, so it may be approved by a disarmament conference that reopens in Geneva on July 29. It could then be sent on for approval by the U.N. General Assembly later this year.

U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, who appeared at the news conference with Primakov after a 90-minute meeting, described the two nations' statement as having "great significance."

Earlier Tuesday, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas - who chairs a 21-member forum of foreign ministers of Southeast Asian nations and major world powers - also endorsed quick conclusion of a test-ban treaty. The forum, which meets annually to discuss regional security issues, "called upon all states participating in the Conference on Disarmament, in particular the nuclear weapons states, to conclude, as a task of the highest priority, a universal and verifiable comprehensive test ban treaty," Alatas said.

China and India, two nations seen as the greatest potential blocks to a treaty, are both represented in the forum but are not bound by the chairman's statement.

U.S. officials said Christopher would discuss the proposed treaty with the foreign ministers of China and India before leaving here Thursday for Australia.

Rains and Floods Kill 800 in China

The Washington Post

Torrential rains and floods have driven millions of Chinese from their homes, killing more than 800 people, cutting roads, rails and power lines, and threatening to breach embankments along the mighty Yangtze River.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops and factory workers were deployed along the Yangtze to plug holes in the embankments with bags of sand and rice. An official told the Reuter news service that one person was stationed every 10 feet along the river working to buttress the banks and hold back the flood waters. The Wuhan flood control headquarters said the water levels of the Yangtze in the city were more than a foot above the danger level, the highest in 65 years.

Farther south, relief workers were battling to evacuate people in northern Guangxi and Hunan provinces, where the floods were said to be the worst in a century. Relief workers said that waters reached the fourth floors of buildings in the city of Rongshui and the second floors in the big industrial city of Liuzhou.

Although flooding is common in China in the summer rainy season, many environmental experts say deforestation and the conversion of agricultural land to industrial use, as well as landfills along riverbanks, have especially aggravated flood problems in recent years.

9 Croats Detained for Connection With Shooting of American Woman

The Washington Post
SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Bosnian authorities have arrested nine Croat men in connection with the shooting of a U.S. government employee during a carjacking attempt, the first attack on a Western civilian in Sarajevo since the Dayton peace accord ended fighting in Bosnia, U.N. police officials said.

The officials said the attack on the American woman, who was traveling in a car with her husband near the Sarajevo suburb of Kiseljak, did not appear to be politically motivated but a simple robbery attempt.

The pair were ambushed on the evening of July 12 after they had dined in Kiseljak, officials said. They were apparently violating U.S. government security regulations by riding in a car that had no marks indicating the occupants were foreigners. The car did not have diplomatic license plates, nor any markings to indicate that the couple were attached to the NATO-led mission to implement peace in Bosnia.

Officials said the Croat gunmen ambushed the car and attempted to stop it, in an apparent effort to rob its occupants and steal the vehicle. The driver ran through the Croats' blockade and drove off. It was then that an assailant opened fire at the vehicle, hitting the woman at least twice in the back.

British soldiers serving with the NATO-led peace force in Bosnia escorted the woman to a French hospital in Sarajevo, where she underwent surgery.