WORLD TRADE TALKS SHOW PROGRESS US trade negotiators said yesterday that they had made progress in resolving disputes with the European Community that threaten to wreck global trade talks related to the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs but admitted a solution was not yet at hand. US Agriculture Secretary Mike Espy and US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said progress had been made during talks Wednesday night in a last-ditch attempt to settle quarrels over farm goods, films, and other trade issues. The negotiators are racing against a Dec. 15 deadline for wrapping up a seven-year round of talks. In related news, China yesterday expressed its unhappiness with a US warning that Beijing's continued poor protection of intellectual property rights could lead to trade sanctions. Mr. Kantor said Tuesday that China was failing to enforce laws protecting US copyrights, trademarks, and patents. US diplomat freedSkip to next paragraph
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American diplomat Haynes Mahoney, freed after being held captive for six days by disgruntled Yemen tribesmen, returned to his post yesterday and said he felt fine. Mr. Mahoney was released Wednesday after about 50 tribal sheikhs promised his kidnappers that they would push the government to redress their grievances. World AIDS day
Most of the world's nations marked World AIDS Day on Wednesday with various events and ceremonies. But some didn't, including Ivory Coast, among the hardest-hit African nations. In the US, President Clinton met with AIDS patients in Washington. Also, lights were turned off for 15 minutes in buildings in major cities. Hubble gets help
Space shuttle Endeavour roared through the predawn darkness into orbit yesterday after a day's delay of the seven astronaut-mission to restore the Hubble Space Telescope's vision and vitality. The critical, long-awaited repair mission will feature more spacewalks than any American mission to date. At least five spacewalks will be done to install 11 new parts for Hubble (photo below). Japanese Resignation
Japanese Defense Minister Keisuke Nakanishi resigned yesterday after sparking a furor in parliament by calling for amendments to the country's ``peace constitution,'' to allow a combat role for Japanese troops under UN command. Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa accepted the resignation. Since World War II, Japan's constitution has forbidden overseas combat.
Georgia peace accord
The Georgian government and Abkhazian separatists signed an accord Wednesday that is meant to pave the way toward peace in the troubled former Soviet republic. It entails a cease-fire but falls short of a full political settlement. It also calls for UN peacekeepers. The memorandum is the first since Abkhazian rebels forced Georgian troops from the provincial capital Sukhumi in September.