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World Briefs I

TWA Disputes Assertion That Mechanical Failure Caused Crash

Los Angeles Times

Trans World Airlines Monday rebuked FBI Director Louis Freeh and other bureau officials for saying mechanical failure not terrorism - was the likely cause of the crash of TWA Flight 800 last summer, even though investigators have not yet definitely reached that conclusion.

TWA complained that the comments were "unproven speculation, and no evidence recovered to date would conclusively support such a theory." "A conclusion based on the evidence we have not found' is clearly no conclusion at all," said a TWA spokesperson.

An FBI spokesman said the bureau had not yet seen TWA's statement and therefore had no comment.

TWA could be severely hurt if authorities did determine that some mechanical failure caused by the airline's maintenance was at fault - which to date they have not. TWA already is the financially weakest of the eight major U.S. airlines and can ill afford any development that might cause passengers to avoid its service.

But Michael Boyd, president of the consulting company Aviation Systems Research Corp. in Golden, Colo., said "TWA is absolutely right" to challenge the FBI's statements. "It's unconscionable to say it's a mechanical problem" if that hasn't been firmly decided, he said.

Koreans Break Off Aid Talks

The Washington Post

Talks between North and South Korean Red Cross officials broke off Monday without agreement on the amount of food aid or conditions for delivering it from the South to the hungry North.

The two sides could meet again within 10 days, negotiators said. But for now they are deadlocked over three South Korean proposals: that food packages be identified as gifts from the South, that South Koreans be allowed into the North to monitor distribution and that shipments move directly to the North overland through the town of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone on the 1953 cease-fire line.

The talks here are unusual because they are the first direct talks in five years between North and South Korean Red Cross officials. Diplomats are watching the talks closely for indications of how desperate North Korea is for food assistance and how North Korean officials might deal with South Koreans generally as the United States and China attempt to push the two sides into direct peace talks in New York. North Korea has said it will join the talks only if it receives guarantees of food aid and an easing of trade sanctions. A senior North Korean official who recently defected to the South warned that the North Korean leadership is ready to go to war with the South if it does not receive assistance.

Rally in Stocks Pushes Dow, Other Indexes to Record Highs

The Washington Post

The stock market soared to a record high Monday in a broad-based rally that surprised skeptics who just a month ago thought the time had come for a long-dreaded, sustained downturn.

More than six years after it began, the bull market, as measured by the Dow Jones industrial average, proved it still has a solid kick. The Dow shot up 143.29 points to close at 7214.49.

Broader market averages also enjoyed healthy gains for the day, which were all the more impressive coming on the heels of the week-long move up last week.

The Dow is up more than 7 percent in the past six days of trading, and the technology-rich Nasdaq composite index zoomed up 10.7 percent over the same period.

"People had been waiting for a dip, for an opportunity to buy, but they just aren't getting one," said James J. Maguire Jr., a specialist on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange who was swamped with "buy" orders in the final hour of trading.

The newfound enthusiasm for stocks was fueled by last week's benign inflation news, the balanced-budget agreement, the prospect of a cut in the capital-gains tax rate, the dramatic shrinkage in this year's federal deficit and solid first-quarter earnings.