MIDDLE-EAST PEACE TALKS WILL RESUME Israel and the PLO agreed yesterday to return to the negotiating table, ending the most serious crisis to shake the peace process since the Sept. 13 autonomy accord was signed. Israel backed down from its claim that the PLO had reneged on an agreement made in Cairo on a solution to key sticking points, while the PLO gave a written pledge that future agreements would not be subject to change. A joint communique said talks would be based on ``understandings'' reached in Cairo on an approach to solving the key obstacles: control of border crossings and the size of the autonomy enclave around Jericho in the West Bank. Bitter feelings lingered on both sides, exhibited in wary comments on the upcoming talks from both Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian negotiator. Unemployment claims soar

The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits for the first time leaped by 70,000 last week, the government said yesterday in a report that shows the continued uncertainty of the nation's job market. It was the steepest increase since July 1992. Economists had expected a much smaller rise of about 24,000 from the previous week, when the number of initial claims unexpectedly dropped to a nearly five-year low. In related news, Labor Secretary Robert Reich said Wednesday he does not expect the Clinton administration to propose new taxes to fund job-training programs, or any other new expenses on business that could hinder job growth. Funding for both already-announced and planned training initiatives will come from cuts in other existing programs, he said, declining to name those programs. US slashes Chinese imports

US Trade Representative Mickey Kantor said yesterday the US would cut the import quota for Chinese textile products by 25 to 35 percent effective Jan. 17. Mr. Kantor announced the unilateral action following nine unsuccessful months of negotiations between the two countries to control illegal shipments of Chinese-made products through third nations. In a statement, he said the new quotas would apply retroactively to products entering the US after Jan. 1. US troops in Colombia

US soldiers began a road-improvement and school-building mission Wednesday in Juanchacho, a jungle region of Colombia where leftist rebels operate and near the base of the Cali cocaine cartel. US and Colombian officials say the aim is to build a school and clinic and to improve a road in the impoverished village. But some newspapers and politicians say the real purpose is to pursue rebels and drug traffickers, and accuse the US of interfering in Colombia's internal affairs. Banning `gangsta rap'

The National Political Congress of Black Women Wednesday urged music stores to stop selling ``gangsta rap'' recordings it claims denigrate women and promote violence. Its members protested outside a Washington-area Sam Goody music store. The organization, whose goals include electing black women to Congress and other offices, said it would launch a national campaign to fight sales of the music.

Women at The Citadel

A federal appeals court removed one of the last obstacles for a woman trying to enroll at The Citadel by refusing Wednesday to rehear an appeal by the all-male military college. A Fourth Circuit three-judge panel already had ruled that Shannon Faulkner could attend classes, but not participate in the military program, while her lawsuit challenging the admissions policy is heard. Ms. Faulkner plans to begin attending classes Jan. 13. Only a Supreme Court hearing remains possible. Virginia Kelley, Clinton's mother

President Clinton's mother, whose colorful ways and sunny disposition hid a will of iron that she passed along to her son, died yesterday. Virginia Kelley, a retired nurse anesthetist, dealt with adversity with confidence, and friends said Mr. Clinton, who idolized his mother, dealt with personal and political trouble by following her example.

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