World

Acknowledging that he won reelection because of people who normally wouldn't have voted for him, French President Jacques Chirac moved quickly to stake out the middle ground for next month's equally vital balloting for a new parliament. Chirac won Sunday's runoff, with 82 percent of the votes, to 18 percent for ultranationalist Jean-Marie Le Pen, according to official returns. In his first major act, he appointed conservative Sen. Jean-Pierre Raffarin as prime minister to succeed Socialist Lionel Jospin. For his part, Le Pen accused his opponents of "totalitarian methods." (Story, page 8.)

A negotiated end to the month-long standoff at the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem appeared near, with sources close to the talks saying the Palestinians trapped inside would be exiled to Italy or sent to the Gaza Strip. In Washington, Secretary of State Powell said: "It's near; we need [only] one or two little problems solved." But a spokesman for the Franciscan order at the church said the negotiations had stalled because Israel "at the last moment" had imposed new conditions. (Related story, page 8.)

Saying, "My release shouldn't be looked at as a major breakthrough for democracy," 1991 Nobel Peace Prize-winner Aung San Suu Kyi emerged from house arrest in Myanmar (Burma) for the first time in 19 months. She told cheering supporters in Yangon, the capital, that the military junta had set no limits on her freedom to travel but called for continued economic sanctions by foreign governments against the ruling generals until basic freedoms have been restored. She said numerous talks with them had passed the confidence-building stage and "we look forward to moving ahead." Above, Suu Kyi takes questions in her first news conference since being freed. (Editorial, page 10.)

As many as 560 communist rebels were killed in four days of the Army's latest offensive, a Nepal government spokesman claimed. But the claim could not be verified independently, since neither journalists nor human-rights groups have access to the combat areas. Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba is scheduled for meetings this week with US and British leaders and is expected to seek pledges of major new military assistance for the fight. (Related story, page 7.)

In a formal ceremony witnessed by an estimated 100,000 people, Marc Ravalomanana was inaugurated as the new president of Madagascar by the Supreme Court. But it was not clear whether that would end the controversy over whether he or predecessor Didier Ratsiraka is the rightful leader of the Indian Ocean island. The latter maintained his refusal to step down.

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