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News In Brief

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France's armed forces chief, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, said the UN's Rapid Reaction force being assembled in Croatia will be ready to open a supply road into besieged Sarajevo by July 15 at the latest. French UN soldiers and Bosnian Serbs are locked in a dangerous confrontation over the Mount Igman route into the capital. Other UN workers remained under fire as Serbs battled Bosnian government forces on Sarajevo's suburban outskirts. A Serb jet reportedly attacked targets in the government-protected enclave of Bihac, a breach of the no-fly zone over Bosnia. In Geneva, UN Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali said any withdrawal of UN peacekeepers ''will make the situation worse.''

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After positive reports from Chechen negotiators, Russian President Yeltsin met with Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to chart Russia's negotiating stance at peace talks with the separatists. In a major expression of confidence, meanwhile, the Russian government pledged to keep the ruble below 4,900 to the dollar until at least October. It was the first time the government has officially targeted the ruble rate since it hit a low of 5,130 in May.

Indian rebel leaders from Mexico's Chiapas state hardened their position in peace talks, demanding that Mexico strengthen its democratic system and end political repression. The rebels accused President Zedillo's party of election fraud and mass assassination. The fourth round of the talks were set to begin yesterday.

Armenians voted yesterday in their country's first parliamentary election since the end of Soviet rule and in a constitutional referendum that could boost the powers of its president. More than 2 million voters were electing 190 members of parliament.

At least three people were killed and nine others were wounded yesterday as talks aimed at bringing peace between the Pakistani government and the ethnic Mohajir National Movement were delayed.

Thailand's new coalition government looked settled as its seventh member, the Nam Thai party, signed on and all parties agreed on a division of cabinet jobs. Coalition members still must nominate candidates for the posts. The coalition is to assume power late in the week.

Iraq admitted for the first time the offensive nature of its biological weapons program, a senior UN official said yesterday.


Average students in the US lag behind their peers academically in three surveyed European countries, according to an American Federation of Teachers study. Students in France, Germany, and Scotland reach higher levels of achievement, and do so earlier than American students, the study said. The US has the largest number of university graduates in the world, but the report raises questions about the education given the 75 percent of US students who don't graduate from college.

Top-seed Andre Agassi moved into the Wimbledon semifinals yesterday with a victory over Jacco Eltingh. Second-seed Pete Sampras was to continue his drive for a third straight Wimbledon title, playing Japan's unseeded Shuzo Matsuoka in a quarterfinal round. Steffi Graf will play Jana Novotna today, and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario will face Conchita Martinez.

A small, bankrupt New Jersey record label said it won a legal battle against Sony Entertainment Inc. for ownership of a collection of unreleased master tapes made by legendary musicians. The 3,000 reels of tape contain 20,000 tracks of performances by such music icons as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, and Louis Armstrong. The ruling gives Clark Entertainment Group rights to sell the tapes, valued at more than $100 million. The group bought the recordings for $6,000.

Top 10 Video Rentals

1. ''Interview with the Vampire,'' (Warner)

2. ''Legends of the Fall,'' (Columbia TriStar)

3. ''Junior,'' (MCA-Universal)

4. ''The Shawshank Redemption,'' (Columbia TriStar)

5. ''The Professional,'' (Warner)

6. ''Disclosure,'' (Warner)

7. ''Forrest Gump,'' (Paramount)

8. ''Quiz Show,'' (Hollywood)

9. ''Richie Rich,'' (Warner)

10. ''Bullets Over Broadway,'' (Miramax)

- Billboard Publications Inc.

'' Opponents of law enforcement have spread misinformation about what happened at Waco. We will set the record straight.''

- Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin on congressional hearings on the raid on the Branch Davidian compound