President Clinton's first personal intervention in Middle east diplomacy produced an offer March 15 by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin to pull back on the Golan Heights if Syria provides the right terms. Some Israeli Golan settlers tried to storm across the cease-fire line with Syria March 14 after hearing news reports of a concession by Mr. Rabin. Mr. Clinton offered assurances that he would ask Congress to keep aid to Israel steady at $3 billion a year, and he promised to maintain Israel's militar y edge over its Arab neighbors. Middle east peace negotiations are due to resume in Washington on April 20, with the United States taking a more active role than it did during the Bush administration. Housing starts up

Construction starts on new homes and apartments in the US rose moderately in February, the Commerce Department said March 16, though not enough to recover from a sharp January slump. The annual rate of starts on new homes increased 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million units, after a fall of 8.4 percent in January. Previously, the department said January starts had fallen by 7.2 percent. Mortgage rates still are at the lowest level in two decades, an incentive for home sales an d building. Limits on doctor fees

The Clinton administration is considering seeking legislation to allow the federal and state governments to limit doctors' fees and health insurance premiums, according to news reports March 16. The Wall Street Journal obtained draft documents from an administration advisory group examining ways to contain health-care costs. IBM head earns less

John Akers, who will soon resign as chairman of IBM, was paid $1.3 million in salary and a bonus last year, a 17 percent drop from 1991 that reflected the computer company's poor financial performance. Mr. Akers's compensation has fallen more than 50 percent from 1990. Strange bedfellows

Iraqi Defense Minister Ali Hassan al-Majeed has met Yugoslav's chief-of-staff, Gen. Zivota Panic in Baghdad, Iraqi newspapers reported March 16. The two men discussed ways of coordinating stands to counter moves by "the US-led camp to destroy the unity of third-world peoples," the newspapers said. Both Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, which now consists of just Serbia and Montenegro, face United Nations sanctions. Netherlands wants justice

The Netherlands March 16 demanded that El Salvador punish the killers of four Dutch journalists whose murder by the Salvadoran Army 11 years ago was confirmed in a recent UN report. There have been suspicions for years that the journalists were deliberately executed, despite Salvadoran government claims that they had been accidently caught in cross-fire between the Army and guerrillas. Iranian shot in Rome

Two people on a motorbike rode up alongside the car of an Iranian opposition official in Rome March 16 and fatally shot him as he was driving to the office. Police identified the victim as Mohammad Hussein Naghdi, an official of the National Council of the Iranian Resistance. It was the latest in a series of killings in various countries of opponents of the Tehran government and its brand of Muslim rule. Japan and Russia

Japanese officials said March 16 in Tokyo that an emergency meeting of industrialized countries to discuss aid to Russia is possible, but only if such a session promises to be effective. Meanwhile, Japan's trade surplus surged in February, the government reported, intensifying pressure both within and outside Japan for it to stimulate the faltering economy and boost imports. The customs-cleared trade surplus widened to $10.56 billion in February from a $10.18 billion surplus a year earlier.

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