News In Brief

Rescue ships were at the scene of a stricken Russian nuclear submarine above the Arctic Circle, but Russia's Navy chief said the prospects for a successful outcome were "not very high." Another Navy official said the Kursk, with more than 100 crew members aboard, apparently had been involved in a major collision, although no details were given. It had been taking part in major naval exercises off Russia's northern coast. The vessel wasn't carrying any nuclear weapons, a Navy spokesman said, and its two nuclear reactors had been shut down. Radiation levels in surrounding areas were reported normal as the Monitor went to press.

The UN avowed that a lead smelter near Kosovska Mitrovica was being shut down only temporarily, but Serbs, worried about their jobs, still hurled rocks and sticks at NATO troops who were securing the Kosovo plant. Three British soldiers were injured, a NATO spokeswoman said; two civilians also were reported hurt. The facility, UN officials claimed, was pumping 200 times the safe level of lead into the atmosphere. The complex is to undergo a $16 million assessment and renovation plan, the UN said, adding that Serbian workers would keep their jobs even during the shutdown.

Almost a dozen African leaders - including Congolese President Laurent Kabila - gathered in Zambia to try to salvage a peace agreement signed last year. The Congo's splintered rebel groups and six African nations signed the accords, which have faltered in the face of flare-ups. At the summit, Kabila was expected to be pressured to stop his alleged obstruction of UN peacekeeping efforts. The UN Security Council mandate for the force is up for renewal at the end of August and likely will be suspended if the situation doesn't improve - leading to worries of a sharp escalation in fighting.

Some of the first villagers - about 640 people - were relocated away from China's Three Gorges Dam project, which eventually is expected to displace 1.3 million people. The construction on the Yangtze River, which constitutes the world's largest hydroelectric project, will create a 350-mile-long reservoir that will submerge two cities, 11 county seats, and 114 towns in central China. The villagers already on the move were resettling in Shanghai, where they will get new houses, tax breaks, subsidized school tuition, and farmland, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

In an apparent escalation of tension ahead of President Clinton's planned visit to Colombia Aug. 30, at least eight soldiers and nine guerrillas were killed over the weekend in various incidents, police reported. A bomb explosion in Bogot, which they said injured one civilian, was attributed to the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, the country's largest guerrilla group. Meanwhile, the second-largest group, the National Liberation Army, or ELN, concluded a campaign of attacks to protest a $1.3 billion antidrug aid package for the country that Clinton signed into law last month.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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