What the foreign papers are saying.
Dec. 12 1997 3:30 AM

This is a new feature, which, beginning next week, will appear in Slate twice a week.


U.S. Vice President Al Gore's speech to the world summit on climate in Kyoto, Japan, received an almost universal thumbs-down, especially in Europe. "Gore disappoints the world" was the headline in Germany's Die Welt, and almost the same headline was used by Spain's El País. Le Monde in Paris spoke of "great disappointment" and "a wave of frustration" and said that Gore might even have caused the summit to fail. In its host country, Japan, Asahi Shimbun was more polite, but still referred to his speech as "ambiguous." The worldwide consensus was that the poor jet-lagged VP, whose arrival in Kyoto had been awaited with such excitement, had signally failed to deliver a breakthrough in the stalled negotiations because of political pressures at home.

But the world summit commanded relatively little attention in the press outside Europe and the Far East. In India the Asian Age didn't mention it at all, being more interested in the nation's prowess in beauty contests. The new Indian Miss World, Diana Hayden, in London on a "tour of glory," was "not the only Indian woman this year to stun planet Earth," it said, for India had also provided first runners-up at the Miss International and Miss Asia-Pacific contests. The Age of Melbourne was quietly pleased, as were other Australian newspapers, about a special gas-emissions deal being offered to its country in Kyoto, but paid more attention to a Canberra Senate ruling that transsexuals should be allowed to compete in sports competitions, raising the question of whether they should do so as women or be put in a category of their own.

In Milan the Corriere della Sera reported on a visit by Italy's Communist Party leader, Armando Cossuta, to New York, where he had "fallen in love" with Sharon Stone when he met her by accident in the Harry Cipriani restaurant on Fifth Avenue. She was, he said, "in the dreams of all men" and "even more beautiful than on the screen." The United States, on the other hand, was "a world made to measure for the rich" and not a model that other countries should imitate. La Repubblica of Rome was preoccupied with the Vatican's difficulty in finding a new commanding officer for the pope's 100-strong Swiss Guard, it being the view of the Swiss bishops that the deputy commander, Lt. Col. Alois Estermann, wasn't "aristocratic" enough for the job.

The Times of London carried a report of a confession on television by President Alberto Fujimori of Peru that he slips secretly out of his palace at night to indulge in "romantic escapades": "I run out through the back door and drive past the gates in a small car, which is not so obvious." Fujimori also said he had been "a late starter" at romance, having experienced his first kiss at the age of 32 "with a German teacher I had, at the end of one of the lessons." He may be trying to protect himself against posthumous revelations by Seymour Hersh.