N. KOREA JOINS IN A TRILATERAL DEAL China, Russia, and North Korea have agreed to give long-term land leases to foreigners to attract investment for a proposed economic development zone on their borders, the United Nations said May 11. An international, independent corporation will be set up, starting June 12, to manage the industrial zone in the Tumen River delta, which straddles the borders of the three nations. The 38,600-square-mile project, estimated to need $30 billion investment over 20 years, would be the first major effort in Asia to

introduce Western capital and technical know-how in largely underdeveloped socialist territory. Also participating in the project are Mongolia and South Korea. The agreement was reached May 9 in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, at a time of rising tensions in northeastern Asia over North Korea's decision to drop out of an international nuclear-control accord. US water cited

More than 800 drinking-water systems around the United States fail to protect tap water from excessive lead, the Environmental Protection Agency says. EPA monitoring conducted between last July and December found lead above what it considers a safe level in 819 systems that serve 30 million people. An additional 1,100 water systems did not complete EPA's required monitoring and will be subject to enforcement action, the agency said. A list of those systems was not immediately available. Whale sanctuary gains

A French plan to create a whale sanctuary in the Antarctic Ocean passed a preliminary hurdle May 11 at the International Whaling Commission in Kyoto, Japan, when the commission's technical committee approved it. The full commission must still review the plan, which prompted a new Japanese threat to quit the group. Although whaling is economically insignificant in Japan, the government has called for resumption of commercial whaling. Norway, which is resuming whaling despite a moratorium imposed by the co mmission, also is pressing for an end to the ban. Iceland, which quit the group last year over the ban, says it is considering resuming whaling. Australia challenges US

Australia will confront the US over recent heavy subsidies to its cotton exports, a senior government minister said May 11. Primary Industries Minister Simon Crean told parliament US subsidies could seriously damage Australia's cotton industry and were not justified. He said he would raise the issue during bilateral trade talks with the US later this month. Fire in Bangkok

An inferno in a doll factory on the outskirts of Bangkok killed at least 160 people May 10 and injured more than 400 others, the government said. Nearly all the victims were women. Prime Minister Chuan Leekpai said he would direct officials to find out whether the doll manufacturer had complied with regulations. Turkey, Russia cooperate

Turkey and Russia, which once faced off in rival blocs, agreed May 11 to cooperate in military education and the defense industry. Turkish Defense Minister Nevzat Ayaz, who signed the agreement with his Russian counterpart, Pavel Grachev, said that the agreement would enable the two nations to get familiar with each other's military abilities, according to the Anatolia news agency. Turkey produces fighter jets, frigates, submarines, and armored vehicles under Western licenses and also seeks Russian techn ology for hardware production. EC unemployment up

Unemployment in the European Community continued to rise in March, creeping up to 10.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 10.1 percent in February, the EC statistics office said. Britain has 11.3 percent unemployed, Ireland 18.4, Spain 20.9.

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