EUROPE

Yugoslav Ruling Party Offers Early Elections

BELGRADE -- President Slobodan Milosevic's party offered yesterday to hold early elections in a last-minute attempt to defuse an anti-government rally planned for today in Belgrade.

The offer failed to satisfy the demands of some opposition forces, who have demanded that Milosevic step down in favor of a transitional government before elections are held.

On the eve of the planned Belgrade protest, 20,000 people rallied in the country's third-largest city, Nis, chanting "Resignations, resignations!" the independent news agency Beta reported.

U.S., Russia Conclude Talks on Arms Treaty

MOSCOW -- Russia and the United States wrapped up initial talks on a major new arms control treaty in a productive atmosphere, the head of the U.S. delegation said.

John D. Holum, U.S. designate undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said the talks had finished and the results would be announced today.

A senior foreign affairs official in the lower house of Russia's parliament said the new talks could help persuade lawmakers to ratify the START II treaty, which has languished without Russian legislative approval since 1993.

Russian Premier, 3 Predecessors Confer

MOSCOW -- Russia's new prime minister gathered three of his predecessors -- all fired by President Boris Yeltsin in the past two years -- in an unusual meeting that came as an anti-Yeltsin political alliance was gaining strength. Russian media speculated that Vladimir Putin assembled Sergei Stepashin, Viktor Chernomyrdin and Sergei Kiriyenko to form an election bloc -- one that would likely be pro-Yeltsin.

But Stepashin said they did not talk specifically about an alliance. Chernomyrdin said Putin consulted with them on cabinet staffing and Russia's military campaign to oust Islamic militants holding villages in the southern region of Dagestan.

AFRICA

Rwanda, Uganda Honor Cease-Fire in Congo

KIGALI, Rwanda -- A cease-fire called between Ugandan and Rwandan troops in the Congolese city of Kisangani held after three days of fierce clashes threatened to undermine their long-standing military alliance.

The cease-fire was called by Ugandan and Rwandan leaders late Tuesday after dozens of people were killed in artillery exchanges and street-to-street battles for control of the rebel-held city. Both Rwanda and Uganda are backing rebels fighting in Congo to overthrow President Laurent Kabila.

ASIA

China Detains Dissident, Party Member's Wife

BEIJING -- Police detained a member of an outlawed party and the wife of a jailed dissident in the city of Hangzhou, a rights group reported.

China Democracy Party member Wang Rongqing, who was released three days ago after serving two months in detention, was detained again, the Information Center of Human Rights and Democratic Movement in China reported. Police also went to the Hangzhou home of Wu Yilong, a member of the outlawed party who has been in detention since May, and took his wife into custody, searched her home and confiscated a computer, books and other materials, the Hong Kong-based center said.

Meanwhile, police have arrested more than 60,000 escaped prisoners and criminal suspects in a six-week drive to ensure stability for the 50th anniversary of Communist Party rule on Oct. 1, state media reported.

Gandhi to Seek Seats in 2 Districts

NEW DELHI -- Opposition leader Sonia Gandhi opted to seek two seats in Parliament in an effort to ensure her election.

Gandhi kept her decision a secret until she flew to Bellary, a district in the southern state of Karnataka, 900 miles south of New Delhi, to file her nomination papers as a Congress party candidate.

Gandhi also will likely run in the district once represented by her assassinated husband, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. In India, parliamentary candidates are allowed to run in up to 10 districts. If Gandhi wins both races, she would choose one district to represent.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Group Says It Shot Official; Iraq Denies It

CAIRO -- An Iraqi opposition group reported that it had shot and wounded a deputy prime minister -- a claim the Iraqi government denied.

Iraq insisted that Mohammed Hamza Zubeidi had not been shot in a failed assassination attempt and would appear in a live television broadcast. Zubeidi, 58, is a trusted aide of President Saddam Hussein and a former Iraqi prime minister.

THE AMERICAS

Nicaraguan Lawmaker, 2 Others Killed

MANAGUA -- A leading Nicaraguan Conservative Party lawmaker, the son of the Conservative Party chief and their driver were shot to death by armed attackers, police said.

Jose Alfonso Cuadra, 40, Julio Enrique Ruiz, 26, and their driver were traveling to a political function when they were attacked in the province of Matagalpa, Capt. Isabel Largaespada of the National Police said.

No suspects had been found in the killing. In 1997, Cuadra was second vice president of the National Assembly. Ruiz was the son of Conservative Party chief Julio Luis Quezada.

Attack Was Robbery Attempt, Newspaper Says

MEXICO CITY -- An apparent assassination attempt on Mexico's top anti-drug prosecutor may have been nothing more than a robbery attempt, a Mexico City newspaper reported.

Four attackers exchanged gunshots Sunday with the bodyguards of drug czar Mariano Herran Salvatti on a Mexico City street. Herran Salvatti and his wife were uninjured.

The federal attorney general's office, which took over the case Monday, has said it was an assassination attempt. But the daily La Jornada, citing unidentified sources at the agency, reported it was an attempt to steal a bodyguard's motorcycle.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We would rather lose a thousand soldiers than lose an inch of land."

The Liberation Army Daily, China's military newspaper, referring to the China-Taiwan conflict -- Page A15