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News In Brief

By Robert KilbornJudy Nichols, and Joshua S. Burek / May 31, 2000



The US and North Korea will resume negotiations on recovering more than 8,000 soldiers missing in action from the Korean War, President Clinton announced. Speaking at a Memorial Day service at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia, he said talks would begin early next month in the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. Negotiations have been stalled since last December, when the Pentagon balked at new North Korean demands for humanitarian assistance. The remains of about 40 US soldiers killed during the 1950-53 conflict have been identified through joint operations since 1996, a US official said.

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After participating in Memorial Day observances, Clinton embarked on a week-long trip to Europe. His first stop was Lisbon, Portugal, to meet with senior officials and participate in a summit with European Union leaders. A White House adviser said the meeting will include discussion of a US export program of tax breaks that the EU has rejected, even after Washington proposed revisions. Clinton also is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak in Germany, visit Ukraine, and hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.

Following three months of declines, the consumer confidence index jumped sharply this month to 144.4, close to January's record 144.7, the New York-based Conference Board reported. The rise, which analysts weren't expecting, may mean that a series of interest-rate increases have not slowed consumer spending.

The Supreme Court agreed to referee a dispute between Virginia and Maryland over the prospect of extending a drinking-water intake pipe halfway across the Potomac River. Under a 1632 land grant, Maryland owns the entire river where it washes both states, but for at least 133 years Virginia has had the right to use Potomac water. Maryland officials have cited environmental concerns in refusing to issue a construction permit for the pipe.

The State Department rejected Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori's reelection as invalid and said it was "a serious threat" to democracy in the Americas. Citing concerns raised by the Organization of American States (OAS), a department spokeswoman said a flawed vote-counting system made Fujimori's runoff victory over boycotting challenger Alejandro Toledo illegitimate. Possible US actions against Fujimori are pending a final OAS election report. (Opinion, page 20.)

The US-backed antidrug aid programs for Colombia have, in effect, ground to a halt while its funding remains stalled in Congress, The Washington Post reported, citing senior administration officials. Passed by the House in March, the legislation has been delayed in the Senate by scheduling logistics and some lawmakers' human rights concerns. The $1.3 billion measure would fund fumigation efforts and military training aimed at checking cocaine production and guerrilla forces. Colombia is said to supply more than 80 percent of the US cocaine market.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society