After her difficult and often tendentious negotiations with Chinese leaders over everything from human rights and democratization to trade and Tibet, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright basked Saturday in the attention of the plucky young democratic reformers of Mongolia.
A country of 2.5-million people, 40 percent of them nomadic, Mongolia shed 70 years as a Soviet-occupied client state in 1991, embracing democracy and market reforms. Despite the loss of markets and jobs that Moscow's retreat made inevitable, the Mongolians have taken up free-market democracy with ardor.
Even more remarkable, given the sour experiences of many new democracies in the region, last month Mongolia experienced another peaceful change of government. Its new prime minister, a 35-year-old former journalist named Tsahiagiyn Elbegdorj, spoke along with Albright here Saturday in words that made her beam. Chinese leaders try to separate political and economic development, and even more democratic leaders such as Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore criticize Western notions of human rights as foreign to Asian culture and values. But Elbegdorj said the Mongolians were "challenging and breaking this stereotype."
"Mongolia is implementing political and economic changes simultaneously in Asia," he said. "This is the choice of our people."
Mongolia, which was allotted $12-million in American aid last year, is one of the few to receive more money from Congress than the administration requests.
Orange Order calls for rejection of Belfast accord
BELFAST, Northern Ireland _ In 5-inch-tall letters declaring "NO," Northern Ireland's biggest Protestant organization urged its members Saturday to reject the Belfast peace accord in this month's referendum.
The Orange Order's blunt recommendation to its 50,000 members, published in its monthly newspaper, increases pressure on David Trimble, the Protestant leader campaigning for people to approve the compromise agreement on May 22.
While Trimble argues the agreement offers Protestants much of what they have long demanded, six of his nine Parliament colleagues have joined the "no" camp. All are prominent in the Orange Order.
The Orange Standard newspaper bore the one-word headline and the view that the agreement "is something which very few unionists, if they are patently honest, could live with."
Senior Orangemen said they refuse to accept any agreement that lets Sinn Fein take part in the new Northern Ireland government after an election June 25 _ or frees all imprisoned members of the IRA and pro-British paramilitary groups by May 2000.
Annan warns of famine
in southern Sudan
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia _ U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned Saturday that there was a real threat of famine in southern Sudan and said the United Nations hasn't been able to raise enough money to help.
The U.N. World Food Program has said about 700,000 people in rebel and government-held regions in the south are in danger of famine because increased fighting and persistent drought kept them from planting crops.
"The situation in (southern) Sudan is tragic, and the possibility of a famine is real," Annan told reporters in the Ethiopian capital. "We will do whatever we can to assist the affected population."
Annan said he would focus on the Sudanese conflict during his eight-nation African tour that began Wednesday in Addis Ababa.
He left for Djibouti later Saturday and is expected today in Nairobi, Kenya, the base for the United Nations and private agencies carrying out humanitarian work in southern Sudan.
Rebels in southern Sudan have been fighting since 1983 for greater autonomy from the Muslim, Arab north. Most southerners are either Christian or animist. More than 1.5-million Sudanese have died during the rebellion, most from hunger or famine.
115 injured as jetfoil
hits submerged vessel
HONG KONG _ A Hong Kong jetfoil heading for the neighboring Portuguese enclave of Macau hit a submerged object Saturday, injuring 115 people.
A government statement said 110 passengers and five crew members were injured among the 244 people aboard.
It did not say if anyone was seriously injured in the collision, which occurred off the coast of Lantau island, where Hong Kong's new international airport is located.