EC MAY EASE YUGOSLAVIA SANCTIONS The European Community unanimously endorsed a plan yesterday to suspend sanctions against rump Yugoslavia if it persuades Serbs in breakaway Bosnia-Herzegovina to accept a moribund peace deal. The plan would have to be approved by the UN and has the conditional backing of the US, EC sources said. The sanctions, in place since May 1992, have battered an economy already reeling from supporting wars in Croatia and Bosnia, and the Belgrade government repeatedly has sought to have them lifted. The EC foreign ministers also urged the US and Russia to meet with the leaders of Bosnia's warring factions in Geneva next week to seek guarantees for the safe passage of aid convoys. Earlier in the day the EC threatened the use of force to prevent renegades from stopping aid convoys. Israel and Lebanon

Israeli troops came under attack from guerrillas yesterday as Lebanon celebrated its 50th anniversary as an independent state. Meanwhile, an Israeli newspaper reported that defense officers are drafting a plan for Israel's military withdrawal from Lebanon. Officials would not confirm the report. Pension shortfall

US government retirement programs are underfunded by more than $1 trillion, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The paper quoted experts as saying the shortfall had remained largely hidden, even though it posed risks for taxpayers and federal workers. Although the Clinton administration has submitted legislation that would force private companies to beef up their pension plans, no similar effort is being made to deal with federal pension problems. Italian elections

Fed up with corruption in mainstream politics, Italian voters turned to mayoral candidates of the left and right and a group seeking autonomy for Italy's north, exit polls and projections showed yesterday. The nation's two major parties have been deeply implicated in a corruption scandal that produced allegations of ties between politicians and organized crime. Amy Biehl trial

Three South African black men accused of murdering white American student Amy Biehl in a racist attack were freed yesterday at the trial's start because a witness refused to testify for safety reasons. Supporters chanting ``One settler, one bullet!'' highlighted that the murder is representative of the anger of many militant blacks toward whites, or ``settlers.''No separate peace

Jordan and Syria have agreed that neither will sign a separate peace treaty with Israel, Jordanian officials and diplomats said yesterday. ``Both agreed on the need for Arabs to back a just and comprehensive settlement because unilateral deals will only weaken Arabs and yield no lasting settlement or stability to the region,'' one official said. In related news, the Arab boycott of Israel will continue until that nation withdraws from all occupied Arab lands and a Palestinian state is established, the Arab League said yesterday. After the signing of the historic PLO-Israeli peace deal in September, Israel and the US called on Arab countries to lift the boycott. Belgian walkout

Belgium's trade unions began a series of strikes yesterday, paralyzing Antwerp, Europe's second-largest port, and slowing commerce in other parts of the country. Union officials said further regional strikes are expected. The unions want the government to soften its austerity measures aimed at boosting competitiveness and employment and cutting social-security spending. Nigerian strike ends

Labor unions called off their nationwide strike after the new military dictatorship, apparently trying to win public support, agreed Sunday to slash fuel prices. Fuel prices had been raised by as much as 1,000 percent two weeks ago by the civilian government which was ousted in a military coup last Wednesday. The reduction is unlikely to ease public opposition to the military's decision to dissolve the Nigerian legislature, state governments, and local councils.

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