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News Briefs I

Administration Reaches Agreements With N. Korea

The Washington Post

The Clinton administration announced a package of agreements with North Korea Thursday aimed at defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and restarting stalled diplomatic initiatives. But the landmark 1994 agreement limiting Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program was jeopardized anew by congressional anger over recent provocative actions by North Korea.

In an effort to keep the agreement alive in the face of growing antipathy on Capitol Hill, U.S. negotiators have told North Korea that access for international inspectors to a suspected underground nuclear weapons development site is a non-negotiable condition for further U.S. compliance with the deal, State Department officials said.

Washington's inspection demand was conveyed during talks in New York last week, the officials said. Those talks produced several agreements that the Clinton administration hailed as landmarks in the quest for a working relationship with North Korea, including a resumption of talks on missile proliferation and of so-called "Four Party" talks about a permanent peace agreement on the peninsula. But they apparently did little to help salvage the 1994 pact known as the "Framework Agreement."

Under that pact, the United States, Japan and South Korea agreed to arrange for construction of two light-water nuclear power reactors in North Korea in exchange for suspension of activities at North Korea's nuclear weapons development facilities in Yongbyhon.

Flood Victims in Chiapas Cut Off From Help

Los Angeles Times

Authorities set up shelters and rushed aid to Mexico's flood-stricken Chiapas state Thursday, but many poor communities were cut off by churning waters, leaving thousands of survivors wet, sick and increasingly hungry.

Fierce storms have battered this nation for a week, with the worst damage in Chiapas. Various government spokesmen in the state put the death toll there at 28 to 40 people, with about 50 missing. But the Rev. Guillermo Nieto, head of the Roman Catholic charity Caritas in the southern city of Tapachula, said he had reports of 100 dead - and expected the figure to increase.

"There are communities that were swept away by the river," he said in a telephone interview. "They've disappeared."

In addition to the toll in Chiapas, storms in recent days have killed 28 people elsewhere in Mexico, according to officials and media reports.

Party Fears Democrats' Lashing Out at Clinton Risks Election

Los Angeles Times

When leading Democratic fund-raisers gathered here Thursday to discuss the 1998 campaign, the most pointed comments were directed not at President Clinton, but at congressional Democrats who have publicly lamented that Clinton's problems may devastate the party in the fall's election.

"I don't like to hear this defeatist talk," one man declared to loud applause at a meeting of the Democratic Business Council, a leading party fund-raising group. "We're going to talk ourselves into a defeat."

Those defiant words may slight the actual degree of danger facing Democrats in an election conducted in the shadow Independent Counsel Kenneth W. Starr's report on Clinton, which may become public Friday.

But the comments accurately suggest the growing fear among Democratic activists that the anxiety - even panic - among Democrats on Capitol Hill will compound the risk by demoralizing the party's base or driving down Clinton's public support.

"When Democrats make those contentions," complains Rep. Calvin Dooley, R-Calif., the co-chair of the centrist New Democratic Coalition, "it has an adverse impact on the ability of Democratic candidates to raise funds and put together campaigns."