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Russia to sell its missiles to Cyprus

Russia plans to deliver advanced anti-aircraft missiles to the Greek Cypriot government in August, despite American protests that the sale will inflame tensions on the island, part of which is Turkish-controlled.

The United States repeatedly has sought to block the sale of the S-300 system, as the missiles are known, and Turkey has even warned that it may take military action. But on Tuesday, the head of the Russian arms sales company Rosvooruzheniye, Yevgeny Ananyev, said Russia was determined to ship the weapons.

"They will be shipped late in July," Ananyev said. "I believe that Cyprus will get them in the middle of August."

Cyprus has been divided between ethnic Greeks and Turks since 1974. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Cyprus, is to arrive there Friday to try to restart negotiations between the two sides.

Greek Orthodox Church

picks new archbishop

ATHENS, Greece _ Greece's top Orthodox clerics elected a reform-minded prelate Tuesday to lead the church at a time of internal turmoil and shrinking congregations.

The new archbishop, Metropolitan Christodoulos, also may help heal the rifts with the Roman Catholic Church and other Orthodox faiths opened by his mercurial predecessor, Archbishop Seraphim, who died April 9 at age 84. He led the church for 24 years.

Christodoulos, 59, thanked the assembled clerics for entrusting the church "to those that are younger" and promised to bring about "modernization, renewal and meritocracy."

Dalai Lama visits activist

who set himself on fire

NEW DELHI _ The Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, on Tuesday clasped the bandaged hand of a badly burned Tibetan activist and urged him to live on "for a free Tibet."

The 60-year-old activist, Thupten Ngodup, set himself afire in protest Monday when authorities forced other Tibetans to end their hunger strike.

Nigeria condemns six

to death for alleged plot

ABUJA, Nigeria _ A week after Gen. Sani Abacha became the only candidate for Nigeria's presidency, his military junta Tuesday sentenced his former righthand man and five others to death for plotting against the regime.

Gen. Oladipyo Diya is the most prominent figure now facing execution by firing squad. When the trial began, Diya, 54, insisted he had been framed. On Tuesday, he was not permitted to say a word.

Thirty people were charged in the alleged plot. Four, including a newspaper editor, received life sentences; four received jail terms between two and 14 years; one was sentenced to an unspecified jail term; and 15 were acquitted.

Ukraine seeks aid to fix

cracking Chernobyl shell

LONDON _ Ukraine is to launch a worldwide appeal for $358-million to make safe the cracking "sarcophagus" shielding the Chernobyl reactor that blew up 12 years ago.

Volodymyr Vassylenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Britain, said: "This cover has started to crumble. If something should happen in the sarcophagus, it will be a real disaster."

Ukraine already has secured $400-million in aid pledges to start a 10-year repair job on the sarcophagus, which is estimated to cost a total of $758-million. It was built after an explosion at the plant on April 26, 1986.

Mitterrand's illegal

last feast is recounted

NEW YORK _ Dying of cancer, Francois Mitterrand ordered a last meal of oysters, foie gras, capons and a tiny, yellow-throated songbird that is illegal to eat and said to embody the soul of France.

Esquire writer Michael Paterniti provides a detailed account of the former French president's meal on New Year's Eve 1995 in the magazine's May issue. Mitterrand died eight days later.

Two-ounce ortolan birds were roasted and served to 30 of Mitterrand's friends and relatives as he sat at a table wrapped in blankets, Paterniti reported.

Up next:BIRTHS

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