The details of an explosion involving a US Navy ship were still being determined as the Monitor went to press, but Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declared, "We will hold those who committed it accountable," if it is a terrorist act. She said it was no time for the US to "retreat from our responsibilities" in the region, although she added that the US would continue to take measures to protect troops and diplomats. Attorney General Janet Reno said FBI agents already in the region had been sent to the scene in Yemen, and that the bureau was preparing to send more experts.
President Clinton may visit North Korea in an unprecedented step to improve relations between the former cold-war foes, both governments announced. The message came soon after Albright confirmed her plan to visit the capital, Pyongyang, in the near future. The communist nation's top defense official, Vice Marshal Cho Myong-rok, concluded a three-day visit in Washington earlier this week during which he discussed terrorism and the nation's missile-defense program with Albright, Clinton, and Secretary of Defense William Cohen.
As expected, Clinton began lifting an oil embargo and flight ban against Serbia in a show of support for Yugoslavia's new leadership. The move doesn't include easing a ban on travel to the US by top members of the former Serbian regime. Shortly after Clinton announced the measures, his Yugoslav counterpart, newly installed Vojislav Kostunica, said he was ready to resume diplomatic relations with the US that were broken during last year's NATO bombing campaign. Meanwhile in Serbia, the party of former President Slobodan Milosevic announced its hard-line leader was replaced by a more moderate figure in an attempt to stem loss of power.
Wednesday's mostly polite debate between George W. Bush and Al Gore was unlikely to break open the tight presidential race, analysts said. While debate experts gave the edge to the vice president, a number of instant public-opinion polls favored Bush. Analysts credited the latter with holding his own during a wide-ranging discussion of foreign affairs - a subject that the two candidates agreed on in many instances. But the debate turned more confrontational when it shifted to other topics. During an exchange about a dragging death in Texas, Bush made two misstatements, which the Gore campaign planned to highlight on the campaign trail.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 325 points as the Monitor went to press. Investors apparently were reacting to an earnings warning from Home Depot and the incident involving a US Navy ship in Yemen. The plunge followed heavy losses Wednesday on the Nasdaq Composite Index. The high-tech stock index closed down 72.05 at 3168.49, just above its low close for the year, set May 23.
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