Kostunica promises new era, meets U.S. ambassador to U.N.
Declaring that Europe needs a "stable Balkans," Yugoslavia's president Wednesday promised a new era of regional cooperation, and a senior U.S. official said he looked forward to Yugoslavia's soon rejoining "the community of nations."
"Yugoslavia has turned to its future and to improving relations, both bilateral and multilateral relations," President Vojislav Kostunica told a one-day summit of Balkan leaders. "That is very important for us."
The Balkan leaders hailed the democratic changes in Yugoslavia since the fall from power this month of Slobodan Milosevic, who waged four ethnic wars in the region during the past decade.
Kostunica's attendance at the regional summit the first by a Yugoslav leader in three years was his latest step toward ending the international isolation imposed on his country during the Milosevic era.
Following the summit, Kostunica conferred for about 2 1/2 hours with the U.S ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, who said Washington's admiration for the change in government in Belgrade "can hardly be expressed, it is so great."
First bodies of victims removed from sunken Russian sub
Laboring in the frigid murk of the Barents Sea on Wednesday, divers found and removed the first bodies from the wreckage of the sunken nuclear submarine Kursk, Russian officials said.
The bodies of three crew members were found several hours after two Russian divers entered the submarine, where 118 sailors died on Aug. 12. The remains were taken from the wreckage and placed in a special container, which would raise them to the surface with the divers, Northern Fleet Chief of Staff Mikhail Motsak said.
A team of Russian and Norwegian divers worked for five days to enter the submarine. The bodies were found after the team finished cutting the first hole in the thick double hull of the Kursk, Motsak said.
Officials have said there is virtually no chance of recovering all the dead: Many were probably pulverized by a massive explosion that tore through the Kursk.
American accused of spy spying denies he gathered data for U.S.
Accused American spy Edmond Pope, suddenly deciding to testify before a closed Moscow court, denied Wednesday that he gathered sensitive technological information for the U.S. government after ending his career as a naval intelligence officer six years ago. "I am not James Bond," one of his lawyers quoted him as saying.
The 54-year-old Pennsylvania businessman said he trusted his Russian partners to deliver only nonclassified information about a high-speed Russian torpedo and never sought any Russian state secrets, lawyer Andrei Andrusenko said.
Pope initially was unwilling to answer questions in court because he considers the conduct of the trial unfair, but ultimately decided his chances of conviction would be even higher if he refused, Andrusenko said.
United pilots ratify contract
Pilots for United Airlines overwhelming approved a new contract making them the best paid fliers in the industry, union officials said Wednesday.
After weeks of voting, the Air Line Pilots Assn. said the new contract, tentatively agreed to Aug. 26, was accepted by 95 percent of the 8,000 United pilots who voted.
Under the pact, United's 10,500 pilots get immediate raises of between 21.5 percent and 28.5 percent with 4 percent annual increases thereafter.