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News Briefs II

N. Korean Missile Launch Concerns U.S. Intelligence

The Washington Post

U.S. intelligence experts failed to anticipate North Korea's ability to launch a three-stage rocket last month and now suspect the secretive communist state may have moved closer to developing a missile capable of hitting the United States, according to a senior CIA official.

The North Korean rocket, fired Aug. 31 in an arc over Japan, broke up somewhere over the Pacific Ocean without reaching orbit. U.S. officials first depicted the launch as a test of the two-stage, medium-range Taepo Dong I missile. But two weeks later, they reported the rocket had three stages and carried a satellite that was destroyed in flight.

"Although the launch of the Taepo Dong I as a missile was expected for some time, its use as a space launch vehicle with a third stage was not," said Robert D. Walpole, the CIA's senior intelligence officer for strategic programs. "The existence of the third stage concerns us. We had not anticipated it."

Settlement Explored in Clinton-Jones Case

The Washington Post

President Clinton's lawyers are quietly exploring a financial settlement with Paula Jones so that she would withdraw her pending appeal and finally end the long-running legal battle that led to the crisis now threatening his presidency, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Attorneys for Clinton and Jones have conferred in recent days about whether a deal can be reached before an appeals court hears oral arguments next month on her bid to reinstate the sexual harassment lawsuit that was dismissed by a Little Rock, Ark., federal judge in April, the sources said.

"There's some talk going on," said one source who did not want to be named.

The tentative discussions in the case that gave rise to the most recent phase of independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's probe of the president appear to involve a possible payment by Clinton in the same range that his lawyers once signaled he might be willing to make. Jones rejected a proposed $700,000 settlement from Clinton a year ago because it did not include an admission and apology from the president, but her camp suggested in February, just weeks before the case was thrown out, that she would accept $900,000.

The renewed contact comes at a time when Clinton allies also are trying to cut a deal with Congress to head off an impeachment drive by agreeing to a censure or some other punishment for his actions regarding Monica S. Lewinsky.