Although international affairs lead all papers, above-the-fold photos of Serena Williams celebrating her U.S. Open victory dominate the front pages. The New York Times leads with the restarting of negotiations over China’s entry into the World Trade Organization; the other papers refer the story. The Los Angeles Times leads with an exclusive: In an interview a Yugoslav general threatened to reenter Kosovo by force if the United Nations does not allow Serb soldiers back into the province. The Washington Post leads with Indonesia’s softening stance on allowing peacekeepers into violence-torn East Timor; the other papers also front the story.
The chief of Indonesia’s armed forces, Gen. Wiranto, expressed willingness to accept an “accelerated deployment” of peacekeeping troops. Hours later Wiranto reframed his message by saying that he would consider “security cooperation.” Indonesia’s U.N. ambassador asserted that it was not time for peacekeepers. President Clinton suggested that the U.S. military might offer logistical support for an Australian-led peace force. The Post reports that a 10-member U.S. military team arrived in Australia to help plan for an East Timor operation.
The NYT boldly heads its story “Jakarta Concedes A Loss of Control,” but the LAT makes clear that no coherent message is emanating from Jakarta. The paper underscores that Gen. Wiranto made his comments in informal talks with a U.N. delegation he was escorting around East Timor. The general acknowledged that some of his troops might be allying themselves with violent anti-independence militia groups.
The LAT and NYT report that during the high-ranking U.N. delegation’s visit to East Timor no shots were heard, but the officials could see that the city was in ruins. In the East Timorese U.N. compound, civilians cowered in fear of the next paramilitary onslaught. The Post reviews evidence of atrocities tied to the Indonesian military. A human rights group reported that hundreds of East Timorese have been shot or hacked to death, including: U.N. employees, members of the Red Cross, priests, and infants.
Presidents Clinton and Jiang Zemin instructed their negotiators to resume talks on China’s entry into the WTO. Negotiations soured last April when Clinton rejected a promising deal. Espionage allegations and the bombing of China’s Belgrade embassy further stalled relations. The NYT assesses the meeting as a significant sign that the rift between China and the U.S. is healing. The Post fronts a photo of Jiang and Clinton sharing a good-natured laugh, but its inside account emphasizes that the leaders made “no tangible progress.” The paper cautions that it remains unclear whether China will recommit to cutting its tariffs to 10 percent and phasing out import restrictions in exchange for WTO membership.
The Yugoslav army claims it might invade Kosovo because the U.N. has failed to protect non-Albanian civilians. The LAT reports that Serb paramilitaries may already be infiltrating Kosovo through the French-protected sector of the province. A senior French commander acknowledged that peacekeeping officials suspect Serbian paramilitaries are permeating northern Kosovo and stirring up unrest.
A political brief in the NYT reports that during a recent trip to Boston Al Gore announced a $5 million aid package for New England’s fishing industry, even though the program was approved a year ago. The piece is ostensibly based on a Boston Globe story. On Friday the Republican National Committee sent news organizations two press releases highlighting the Globe story. The releases are the latest in a series of “World According to Gore” faxes that cast the vice-president as a political opportunist. The NYT brief cited one condemnatory quote from the Globe story, the same quote that the RNC underlined and boldfaced in its attack fax.
All papers note that Serena Williams is the first African-American to take the women’s U.S. Open title in more than 40 years. After Martina Hingis beat Serena’s sibling in the semi-finals, seventeen-year-old Serena defeated Hingis in straight sets. Serena’s father had predicted an all-Williams final. The NYT notes that his comment provoked Martina to call Mr. Williams a “big mouth.” Serena volleyed by attributing Hingis’ remark to her “lack of formal education.”