News In Brief

russia's parliament approved vladimir Putin as the country's fifth prime minister in the last 17 months. Putin said he will keep the previous Cabinet largely unchanged to maintain stability and continuity. Meanwhile, Moscow received a dose of encouraging news in a report that industrial output for July was up 12.8 percent from July 1998, the biggest jump since the start of economic reforms in 1992. Above, volunteers joined Russian troops on their way to battlefront in Dagestan, where Islamic rebels seized some villages.

The US and Vietnam took another step towards reconciliation with the opening of a new US consulate in Ho Chi Minh City. The facility is built on the same property as the former US Embassy that was the scene of the 1975 rooftop evacuation, one of the most poignant images of the Vietnam War. The consulate is expected to be one of the busiest US outposts. Each year, about 30,000 Vietnamese are expected to emigrate to the US.

For a second day, former allies Uganda and Rwanda turned their guns on each other in the Congolese city of Kisangani. Both countries sent troops to Congo to fight their mutual enemy, President Laurent Kabila. But when the rebel movement broke in two, they ended up siding with different factions. If the fighting escalates, it could wreck last month's peace deal between Rwanda, Uganda, and the Congolese president.

The US and Japan agreed to share research on a missile-defense system designed in part to shield Japan from North Korean attack. The system is intended to detect incoming missiles and intercept them. The US will pick up about two-thirds of the estimated $500 million cost of the project.

A Dutch government bill that would grant euthanasia rights to 12-year-olds was criticized by opposition parties as a flagrant breach of ethics. The controversial bill entitles children to choose to end their lives and suffering - in some cases against the will of their parents. A 1998 study found that 92 percent of people in the Netherlands supported euthanasia, compared to about 50 percent in the US.

Iranian kidnappers holding four Europeans have demanded the release of two people from an Iranian jail in exchange for freeing the hostages, diplomats in Tehran said An Iranian newspaper said the kidnapping was in retaliation for a recent police sting operation against a drug ring during which five traffickers were killed and two arrested.

The US and South Korea began a 12-day joint military exercise, despite tensions with North Korea. The exercise, code-named Ulji Focus Lens, is one of the largest conducted annually by armed forces of the two countries.

The UN vowed to hold East Timor's Aug. 30 referendum on independence despite growing concerns about security in the Indonesian-ruled territory. Meanwhile, Indonesia said it will free all East Timor political prisoners after the balloting, including guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao.

Gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Mexico's antidrug czar, Mariano Herran Salvatti, but he was not injured, officials said.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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