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The deaths of two American pilots in the crash of an Apache helicopter were the first confirmed NATO casualties of the six-week air war against Yugo-slavia. The helicopter went down in darkness early yesterday in neighboring Albania while on a training exercise. Meanwhile, NATO spokesmen were denying accusations that an alliance bomb hit a Greek humanitarian-aid convoy on its way from Macedonia to the Kosovo capital, Pristina. No casualties were reported.

The vote today for members of Scotland's first Parliament in 300 years likely will result in defeat for pro-independence nationalists, results of a last-minute public opinion poll indicated. The poll, in The Scots- man newspaper, showed a 12 percent lead for Britain's ruling Labour Party over the Scottish National Party (SNP), although almost one-quarter of respondents said they still were undecided. The Parliament will have limited powers, but the SNP is hoping for a victory to bolster its argument for a referendum on separation from Britain.

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Secret discussions have been held between US and Libyan representatives to try to turn a "new page" in relations between the two countries, according to a published report. Asharq-al-Aswat, an Arabic newspaper in London, said the talks involved Libya's ambassador to Italy and specialists on Libyan affairs from the State Department. The US imposed unilateral sanctions against the Tripoli government in the 1980s, but the handover of two ex-intelligence agents early last month for trial in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 has made new contacts possible, the report said.

A deal that would provide autonomy for East Timor was to be signed by the governments of Indonesia and Portugal, the former colonial power in the troubled territory. But as their representatives met at the UN in New York, separatist leader Xanana Gusmao demanded an international peace-keeping force be sent to East Timor as soon as possible because Indonesian troops stationed there could not be considered neutral. The territory is to vote on the autonomy deal Aug. 8. If it is rejected, independence is expected to be offered by Indonesian leaders weary of the continuous strife there.

Three Islamic militants were sentenced to death for the kidnapping of Western tourists in Yemen last December. A fourth defendant was ordered imprisoned for 20 years; 10 others were acquitted. The case arose from the abduction of 12 Britons, an Australian, and two Americans by an alleged extremist group working to destabilize the Yemeni government. Four of the hostages were killed by the kidnappers during a rescue attempt by Army troops, the court found.

Soccer games were agreed to by the labor federations of North and South Korea in what would be the first sports exchange between the two countries since their 1950-1953 war. The first of two exhibitions was scheduled for Aug. 10 in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, with the follow-up in Seoul next year. A statement by leaders of the two federations said they hoped the exhibitions would bring the rivals closer to reunification.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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