French peacekeepers, ethnic Albanians clash in Kosovo...

FOREIGN DIGEST

February 06, 2000

French peacekeepers, ethnic Albanians clash in Kosovo, injuring 41

KOSOVSKA MITROVICA, Yugoslavia -- French peacekeepers clashed with ethnic Albanians in northwestern Kosovo yesterday, as the peacekeepers used clubs and tear gas to force back hundreds who tried to push their way across a bridge to the Serbian-controlled side of a divided town.

It was the second day of confrontations between the soldiers and ethnic Albanians in Kosovska Mitrovica, and the fourth day of violence since a rocket attack on a United Nations bus killed two elderly Serbs.

Forty-one people, including 11 French soldiers, were injured yesterday.

Turkish premier welcomes warming ties with Greece

ANKARA, Turkey -- As Turkey's foreign minister toured Athens yesterday, Turkish Premier Bulent Ecevit welcomed warming ties with rival Greece, saying he hoped Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis would visit Turkey soon.

The rivals began last year to ease long-standing tensions. On Friday, Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem and Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou signed confidence-building agreements in Athens.

Cem toured the Acropolis yesterday and expressed support for Greek efforts to restore the so-called Elgin Marbles, removed from the Parthenon to Britain during Ottoman rule.

20,000 in northwest France protest oil spill damage

NANTES, France -- About 20,000 demonstrators gathered in this northwest French city yesterday to show their anger over a 2-month-old oil spill that has contaminated the country's Atlantic coastline.

Environmental activists and ocean specialists were among those protesting the ecological damage caused after the Maltese-registered tanker Erika split in two in rough waters Dec. 12, spilling 3 million gallons of heavy oil.

TotalFina, the company that had chartered the tanker, has said the company would spend about $108 million on the cleanup.

Germany gives up plans for rapid levitating train

BERLIN -- Germany announced yesterday that it has given up plans to operate a superfast levitating train between Berlin and Hamburg, leaving the future of the cutting-edge technology in doubt.

The "maglev" project, debated for two decades, was canceled after the government balked at rising costs for the 185-mile link and the German railway complained that it would lose money.

The maglev would have been the first intercity link of its kind in the world.

Rebels launch attacks on Congolese army positions

KINSHASA, Congo -- Rebels have launched attacks on Congolese army positions in new violations of a shaky cease-fire agreement, the government said yesterday.

Government soldiers were occupying "defensive positions" in the town of Likwelo in northwestern Equateur province when they came under attack Thursday, Defense Ministry official Col. David Kokolo Longo said. Fighting continued yesterday, he said.

The rebels were advancing on the Wenga region to capture Mbandaka, the administrative center of Equateur, Longo said.

Ukraine agrees to close Chernobyl plant this year

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said yesterday that the Chernobyl nuclear plant will be shut down this year, as Western countries have long demanded.

But Kuchma reiterated to U.S. Energy Secretary Bill Richardson that the plant would be closed only after U.S., Ukrainian and international experts work out a deal to help compensate Ukraine for the loss of the energy Chernobyl provides, a presidential spokesman said.

Diver dies trying to find bodies from Kenya jet crash

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast -- The Kenya Airways disaster that killed 169 people claimed another life yesterday when a Kenyan navy diver died trying to recover the bodies.

Divers pulled up nine victims yesterday. Flight 431 crashed Jan. 30.

Yeltsin using retirement to catch up on the classics

MOSCOW -- Former Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin is enjoying his retirement by listening to the music of Tchaikovsky and reading classical Russian authors Anton Chekhov and Leo Tolstoy, an aide said.

In an interview published in Komsomolskaya Pravda daily, a former aide, Vladimir Shevchenko, also said Yeltsin continues to keep up an active work schedule.

Rare Copernicus book stolen from St. Petersburg library

MOSCOW -- A rare 1543 first edition by astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus has been stolen from a library in St. Petersburg, and authorities have appealed to Interpol to help in its return.

The book, one of 107 copies in the world, was among 23 rare books from the 16th and 17th centuries stolen, said the Itar-Tass news agency.

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