Deadly Earthquake Hits Athens

ATHENS--A powerful earthquake rocked Athens yesterday, killing at least 32 people and leaving emergency workers digging desperately to rescue some 120 people known to be trapped and possibly alive. The quake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale, was centered about 12 miles north of Athens and was felt as far away as the Turkish city of Izmir.

Walls of buildings were cracked across Athens and its suburbs, and rubble from old buildings cascaded into streets. Officials said more than 100 structures were severely damaged.

While not nearly as devastating as the quake that killed more than 15,000 people in Turkey last month, it was the worst temblor to hit Greece in nearly 20 years. Turkey, touched by Greece's liberal aid after its disaster, offered condolences and whatever help it could give.


Pakistan Pushes India to Sign Treaty

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan--Pakistan urged world powers to press India to sign a nuclear test ban treaty, saying its plans to continue nuclear tests makes it impossible for Pakistan to consider the accord. Pakistani Foreign Secretary Shamshad Ahmad warned of more nuclear tests by India and said Pakistan would be forced to respond if such tests were carried out.

India said last month it will pursue a policy of credible nuclear deterrence and use nuclear weapons only in retaliation. The plan calls for India to arm its army, navy and air force with nuclear weapons.

Beijing Approves of U.S. Nominee

BEIJING--China said it had approved Washington's nomination of former Pacific commander Adm. Joseph Prueher as the new U.S. ambassador to Beijing.

But Foreign Ministry spokesman Sun Yuxi warned the United States against intervening in Beijing's dealings with Taiwan and "not to say or do anything that would foster the arrogance of Taiwan independence" forces.

Beijing's acceptance of Prueher comes just ahead of a planned meeting between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and President Clinton in Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, at the annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum.

N. Korea Puts Onus on United States

BERLIN--North Korea, which has worried its neighbors by claiming new territorial waters and test-firing a missile, held a first round of talks with the United States aimed at reducing tension in the region and said that talks' success depends on Washington.

"The result of the talks depends on the will of the U.S.," Vice Foreign Minister Kim Gye-Gwan told reporters outside the U.S. Embassy here after meeting with U.S. officials for more than three hours. The discussions are scheduled to last until Saturday.


Jordanian King Pledges Help to Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY--In what appeared to be new efforts at reconciliation, Jordan's King Abdullah ended his two-day visit to Kuwait with a pledge to try to help the nation recover 600 prisoners of war it believes are being held in Iraq. The king's visit was aimed at improving the relationship between the nations, fractured during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, when Jordanians overwhelmingly supported Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

In his departure cable to the nation's emir, Sheik Jabir Ahmed Sabah, Abdullah pledged to support Kuwait's efforts to "bring a positive end" to the prisoner issue. Baghdad denies it is detaining anyone from the war.

Hezbollah Denies Argentine Bombings

BEIRUT--Lebanon's militant Muslim group Hezbollah denied bombing Jewish facilities in Argentina in the early 1990s and accused the United States of fabricating charges of terrorism. Argentina blames Hezbollah and the radical Palestinian group Islamic Jihad for a 1992 car bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires that killed 29 people, and for a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in which another 86 died.

Hezbollah's latest denial came in response to a decision by Argentina's Supreme Court last week to issue an arrest warrant for Imad Mughniyah, whom it said was behind the bombing in his capacity as a Hezbollah official and former head of Islamic Jihad.

Israeli Planes Hit Target Deep in Lebanon

BAALBEK, Lebanon--Israeli warplanes struck deep inside Lebanon, hitting an area in the northeastern corner of the country near the Syrian border, security officials said. The jets fired two air missiles at a hill near the village of Chouwaghir on the banks of the Orontes River about four miles from the Syrian border and some 60 miles northeast of Baalbek, the officials said.

It was not clear what the target of the attack was. The officials, speaking on customary condition of anonymity, said the missiles crashed a few hundred yards from a Hezbollah-owned fishery. Residents said the area once was a guerrilla camp but had long been abandoned. It was also not clear what prompted the attack.

Saddam Hussein Orders Renovation of Ur

BAGHDAD, Iraq--Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has ordered the renovation of Ur, the birthplace of the biblical figure Abraham, ahead of an expected visit by Pope John Paul II, Baghdad newspapers reported. The reports said a committee consisting of officials from the presidential office and the ministries of endowment and religious affairs and culture and information was established to study the renovation, though they made no mention of a papal visit.

John Paul has said he wants to make several trips to the Middle East to retrace Old and New Testament events as part of celebrations to herald Christianity's third millennium.


Gadhafi Stages Show of Force for Leaders

TRIPOLI, Libya--Flanked by more than two dozen African leaders, a jubilant Moammar Gadhafi staged a massive show of force, displaying long-range missiles, warplanes and tanks at a parade marking his 30th year in power. Thousands of soldiers marched in the five-hour parade.


"The Indonesian military has to bring those militias under control, and they have to bring them under control within a matter of hours, not in a matter of days."

-- Alexander Downer, Australian foreign minister, Page A1