- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 30, 2002

North Korea welcomes visit by U.S. aides

North Korea has informed the United States it would welcome a visit to Pyongyang by a State Department envoy, apparently opening the way for the first official talks between the two countries in 18 months, an administration official said yesterday.

The Bush administration gave no official word as to how the United States would respond, but had said it would be willing to meet with North Korea at any time, any place to resume security talks.

The administration has seemed eager to resume talks despite President Bush's designation of North Korea in January as a member of an "axis of evil."

The North Korean invitation did not come as a surprise. Officials in Pyongyang informed visiting envoys from South Korea weeks ago that they were ready to resume a dialogue with Washington.

U.S., Moscow hopeful on nuclear pact

MOSCOW The American and Russian defense chiefs reported modest progress yesterday toward a nuclear arms agreement but gave no indication they had overcome the major stumbling blocks.

"We're making progress, and the meetings will continue later this week in Washington," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said, referring to meetings scheduled between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov.

After about two hours of talks with Mr. Rumsfeld, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov told reporters that his government had submitted to the Americans a "set of new ideas" to push the talks toward agreement.

Students in Germany mourn colleagues

ERFURT, Germany Germans paused for a moment of silence yesterday to honor the victims of the shootings that left 17 dead at a school in Erfurt last week. Most classes in the city also were canceled so students could express their grief.

Children clutched their parents' hands and students embraced tearfully as they assembled with teachers at the Johann Gutenberg Gymnasium before heading to the nearby city hall for sessions with counselors and teachers.

On Friday, 19-year-old former student Robert Steinhaeuser sneaked into the Gutenberg school with a 9-mm pistol and fatally shot 13 teachers, two teen-age students and a policeman before killing himself.

Indonesian Christian wants killings stopped

JAKARTA, Indonesia A Christian leader yesterday called for a crackdown on a paramilitary Muslim group suspected of involvement in the brutal killings of 12 Christians in Indonesia's Maluku province.

Several religious leaders said the Laskar Jihad, or Holy War Troop, was behind the attack in Soya, a Christian village on the outskirts of Maluku's provincial capital, Ambon.

The violence came two days after Laskar Jihad rejected a February peace deal meant to end the sectarian fighting in Maluku, a region known as the Moluccas or Spice Islands during Dutch colonial rule.

Student kills teacher, wounds another

SARAJEVO, Bosnia-Herzegovina A high school student in eastern Bosnia shot and killed one teacher and wounded another yesterday before fatally shooting himself in the country's first such school attack, police said.

The shooting happened shortly after noon in the remote town of Vlasenica, about 30 miles northeast of the capital, Sarajevo, in the Bosnian Serb part of the country.

Bosnian Serb Interior Ministry spokesman Zoran Glusac identified the 17-year-old student only by his initials, D.P.

More Germans die from Tunisian blast

BERLIN Two German women hurt in an apparent suicide attack outside a synagogue on the Tunisian island of Djerba this month have died from their injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The injured were two of the three persons evacuated to Berlin for treatment after the April 11 blast. The death toll is now 18, 13 of the victims Germans.

The women, ages 22 and 39, had burns on more than 70 percent of their bodies and died from multiple organ failure, the spokeswoman said.

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