News In Brief

A potentially explosive showdown over the closure of Palestine Liberation Organization offices in Jerusalem was averted by the Israeli Supreme Court. The justices gave Prime Minister Netanyahu's government until Tuesday - a day after national elections - to respond to a petition by a peace group, which argues that the closure order was politically motivated. The court order was cheered by Palestinians (among them PLO official Faisal Husseini) gathered outside the building for a confrontation with police trying to serve the closure notice.

"Several skirmishes" on the ground in Kosovo were contradicting Yugoslav President Milosevic's claim that he'd ordered troops and police out of the restive province, a senior NATO spokesman said. Gen. Walter Jertz said "we've witnessed" stepped-up operations against ethnic Albanian forces in western Kosovo. The Belgrade government said Monday its partial pullout from Kosovo would bring troop strength there back to "the peace-time level." NATO has rejected the pullout announcement. Meanwhile, daytime bombing in Yugoslavia reportedly killed at least six more people and injured - among others - a key aide to Milosevic.

The year-old agreement to bring peace to Northern Ireland "is in tatters," Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams told BBC radio. He said the accord can be saved only if Protestants soften their demands for disarmament by the Irish Republican Army, Sinn Fein's military ally. He spoke as political pressures intensified for progress on the dispute. British Prime Minister Blair was meeting with Northern Ireland's Protestant First Minister-Designate, David Trimble. Talks between Blair and Adams and Blair and his Irish Republic counterpart, Bertie Ahern, were to follow. Blair and Ahern so far have resisted calls to impose a solution on the territory's Catholics and Protestants.

Consideration of five articles of impeachment against President Boris Yeltsin is to begin tomorrow, the Communist leadership of Russia's lower house of parliament decided. Only one of the five - starting the 1994-96 war against separatists in Chechnya - is considered to have any likelihood of passing, and even then it also would have to succeed in two courts and the upper house for Yeltsin to be removed from office.

In a new sign that self-proclaim-ed Congo President Laurent Kabila may be losing his grip on power, rebels said they'd captured his birthplace in a southern province. They claimed to have killed dozens of government troops and captured tanks and other heavy weapons, and ammunition. Analysts also found some significance in the recent stoning of Kabila's motorcade by residents of a slum he was visiting in the capital, Kinshasa.

No public funds will be granted for challengers to Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo in next year's elections, published reports said. Quoting a senior official of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the reports said Zedillo had insisted that such resources be denied "for the benefit of any candidate." Zedillo is considered likely to face a challenge from within PRI ranks by Tabasco state Gov. Roberto Madrazo, who already is running promotional ads on TV.

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