President Clinton, breaking his silence about the Mideast summit at Camp David, told the New York Daily News that the negotiations were "the hardest thing I've ever seen" - more so than previous talks between the Israelis and Arabs, or negotiations over Northern Ireland or Bosnia. He added he wasn't sure of success. But Clinton said he still hoped to leave for the Group of Eight summit in Japan as planned tomorrow, reinforcing the impression the US wants to use that date as a deadline for a deal. Diplomats tracking the talks said they expected the US, which has held back from offering its own ideas in writing, to put forward a make-or-break package of final-compromise proposals.
After a newspaper quoted congressional officials as saying US aid for Israelis and Palestinians could cost at least $15 billion, Senate majority leader Trent Lott said that was "way too high." The Mississippi Republican indicated that proposals to pay for Palestinian resettlement or reparations would meet resistance and that it would take more than a year to handle any Mideast aid plan. Money also could be used to relocate Israeli military bases and borders and enhance its defenses, The Washington Post reported.
Outside groups played an unprecedented role in key primary elections this year, a study spearheaded by Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, found. The research concluded that in Iowa, Al Gore received crucial support from the AFL-CIO and other unions, which sent four mailings to about 25,000 homes and provided 35 full-time organizers. George W. Bush, meanwhile, got a crucial boost in South Carolina from interest groups launching an intense attack against rival John McCain, the study said. It cited recorded phone calls to at least 45,000 homes by the Rev. Pat Robertson criticizing McCain, and at least 80,000 letters from a group supporting the Confederate flag that objected to a statement he'd made about it.
In another sign of improved relations with North Korea, a senior US official said Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was planning to meet her counterpart from that country later this month. The event with Paek Nam-Sun would occur in Thailand during a regional forum. Albright previously has said she likely might use such talks to try to extend a freeze on North Korea's nuclear-weapons program and to curb the spread of its missile technology.
Federal researchers will receive an additional $50 million over the next five years for research on Alzheimer's disease, the White House announced. Work will focus on developing a vaccine, Clinton said. The announcement follows reports last week of advances along those lines. Alzheimer's costs the US healthcare system as much as $100 billion a year, the White House estimated.
Marla Runyan finished third in the women's 1,500-meter run at US Olympic trials Sunday, meaning she can compete in the Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. She's believed to be the first legally blind athlete to qualify for a US team.
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