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Call it Foreign Affairsfest. Or a Woodstock for diplomats. This week the United Nations opens its "Millennium Summit," the 2000 General Assembly, with the largest gathering ever of world leaders. Each of the 155 (plus or minus) kings, presidents, generals, and prime ministers will officially get five minutes at the microphone to talk about the global issues most important to them: poverty, AIDS, globalization, hunger, capitalist and cultural imperialism, education, UN peacekeeping (page 1), and so on. That implies that the official events will be a mile wide and an inch deep. But the UN knows that real progress is likely to be made in individually organized tte--ttes between leaders. Bill Clinton will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat (page 3). Russia's Vladimir Putin will use the event to meet 20 different leaders (including Cuba's Fidel Castro) separately in his efforts to find a new geopolitical niche for his country (this page).

David Clark Scott World editor


*PARLEZ-VOUS PEACEKEEPING? Reporter Guillaume Debr is French. When he interviewed the head of the UN peacekeeping operations in New York, Bernard Miyet, also a Frenchman, it was natural for them to speak in their native tongue. But Guillaume found that the connection created some confusion. "Mr. Miyet kept talking to me as if I were a journalist for a French newspaper. He spoke in terms of the UN-French relations. I had to keep gently steering the conversation toward topics of interest to a broader audience."

*PORTUGUESE ONLY, PLEASE: Reporter Andrew Downie sympathizes with the Brazilian effort to curb the use of English. He sees it as a form of linguistic elitism. "Upper-class Brazilians watch "Mad About You" and "Seinfeld" in English and see the use of English as chic and natural. But when I interview the average Brazilian, they have no idea what these English terms, like "personal banking" or "day after," mean.

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