RWANDA REBELS CLOSE IN ON CAPITAL Rebels crept closer to taking the capital, attacking overnight and early yesterday after pounding Army defenders with heavy artillery and shelling. Much of the fighting was centered around a government stronghold beside the airport, where both sides have suffered heavy casualties. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Jose Ayala Lasso flew into Kigali yesterday for meetings with government and rebel leaders to end the ethnic slaughter between the majority Hutus and minority Tutsis. An estimated 100,000 to 200,000 people - mostly civilians - have been killed in a month of fighting and massacres in Rwanda, according to the UN and aid groups. About 1.3 million people have fled their homes. Yemen fighting continues

The north claimed a southern Scud missile hit Sana yesterday, killing 25 people, as both sides traded accusations of savagery in Yemen's week-long civil war. Several Scuds have landed in Sana since the civil war erupted last Thursday, but yesterday's was the first reported to have caused casualties. The south earlier appealed for humanitarian intervention in the conflict that has produced competing casualty claims ranging from a few hundred to 12,000 killed and wounded. Foreigners continued to flee the war-wracked nation. US troops to Haiti?

The Clinton administration believes it will be necessary to send US troops to Haiti even if a toughened international embargo forces its military leaders to step down, a senior US official said yesterday. US envoy to the United Nations Madeleine Albright, speaking on the NBC program ``Today,'' said ``some kind of a United Nations force'' with a US component would be needed ``to deal with the security issues in Haiti and to deal with trying to reconstitute it.'' The Los Angeles Times reported yesterday that the administration planned to send at least 600 heavily armed and protected troops to purge Haiti's military. The newspaper, citing unnamed diplomats and Haitian sources, said the timing of the deployment was already under discussion in Washington. Clinton's court list

President Clinton, who is to settle on a Supreme Court candidate soon, is expected to choose between Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, Arkansas Judge Richard Arnold, and Boston Judge Stephen Breyer, an official said yesterday. The White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Clinton's short list technically includes two other judges, Jose Cabranes of Connecticut and Amalya Kearse of New York. But the president was focusing on the threesome. The five finalists were candidates in 1993, when Clinton surprised observers and chose dark horse Ruth Bader Ginsburg. China lets dissident go

Yu Haocheng, a government critic, has won permission to travel abroad after nearly four years of being denied a passport, his family said yesterday. US officials have repeatedly urged China to let Yu travel abroad, and the sudden approval suggests Chinese authorities hope to influence the coming US decision on whether to renew China's low-tariff trade status. President Clinton must decide by early June whether to extend China's most-favored-nation trade status, and he is committed to taking human rights into account.

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