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News Briefs

Kosovo Airport Opens as Russian Troops Arrive LOS ANGELES TIMES -- PRISTINA, Yugoslavia

War-scarred Kosovo passed two milestones Tuesday: the arrival by air of additional Russian troops, marking what officials hope will be the final agreement between Russia and NATO to cooperate in the province, and the reopening of the Pristina airport for humanitarian flights. Two planeloads of Russian troops and gear landed at the newly repaired airport, along with a U.N. charter flight from Italy carrying satellite telephone equipment and generators for relief organizations.

The Italian flight was the first civilian aircraft to land since peacekeepers entered Kosovo on June 12. U.N. and NATO officials said it will be the first of many to bring in the supplies and personnel needed to rebuild Kosovo. In addition, commercial flights may resume within two months, said British Brig. Gen. Andrew Bellamy, who has been appointed by NATO to head air operations in Kosovo, a province of Yugoslavia’s dominant republic, Serbia.

The commander of the Russian troops at the airfield, Gen. Anatoly F. Volchkov, told reporters that six Russian military flights carrying equipment and “from 30 to 40 people per aircraft” were expected in Pristina on Tuesday. Later in the day, however, it appeared that only two had made it because of technical difficulties in Russia.

Puerto Rico Governor Seeks Assistance from U.N. LOS ANGELES TIMES -- Puerto rico

Frustrated that Congress hasn’t resolved Puerto Rico’s political status, the commonwealth’s pro-statehood governor urged the United Nations on Tuesday to get more involved and urge Washington to act. Gov. Pedro Rossello asked the U.N. decolonization committee to reverse a 1953 decision by the General Assembly and place Puerto Rico back on the list of non-self-governing territories whose status is to be resolved by 2000.

Puerto Rico was removed from the list when it adopted its present constitution and became a U.S. commonwealth. The former Spanish colony was ceded to the United States in 1898 after the Spanish-American War. Rossello said Tuesday that placing Puerto Rico back on the list of 17 non-autonomous territories was the “only way to provoke the U.S. Congress -- after more than a century of colonialism--to fulfill the responsibilities required by its own Constitution and the U.N. Charter.”

Specifically, Rossello wants Congress to clarify Puerto Rico’s options and stand by the results of a referendum on its future. Two locally organized plebiscites have failed to produce a majority backing statehood, but Rossello claims the statehood numbers would increase if Congress set out the options itself and promised to recognize the results.