EUROPE

Russian Army on Hills Overlooking Grozny

GROZNY, Russia--Russian artillery and tanks dug in atop a hill just outside the Chechen capital of Grozny yesterday in preparation for what Moscow said was the next phase in its campaign to wipe out insurgents.

After their deepest push yet into the breakaway region, Russian troops were digging in on heights overlooking the city, which was now well within range of Russian artillery. There were no indications whether Russian commanders would try to push into Grozny, which is heavily defended by Chechen forces.

Hungarian Jews Seek Return of War Loot

BUDAPEST--Hungary's Jews will seek to have treasures stolen by the Nazis and later taken by U.S. troops returned to their rightful owners--or the Jewish community here if no next of kin can be found, a Jewish leader says.

Gabor Sebes, director of the Hungarian Jewish Heritage Foundation, was quoted in yesterday's editions of the newspaper Magyar Hirlap as saying his group will "proceed with the necessary steps to have the treasures returned to Hungary."

His comments come after a report released Thursday by a U.S. commission found that American officials allowed Nazi loot from a train out of Hungary to be sold, taken by U.S. generals or turned over to Austria instead of returned to the Jews from whom it was confiscated during World War II.

DaimlerChrysler Has Exit Clause in Merger

BERLIN--DaimlerChrysler AG has an exit clause in the deal to merge its aerospace unit DASA with France's Aerospatiale Matra SA if it feels the French government is interfering with business decisions, the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel reported.

The French government, which held almost half of Aerospatiale Matra, will control half of the French-held 30 percent of the new company. DaimlerChrysler will hold 30 percent and the remaining 40 percent is to be sold on the stock market. The new company is to be known as the European Aeronautic, Defense and Space Co., or EADS.

DaimlerChrysler representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

EU Leaders Set Goals for Crime Fighting

TAMPERE, Finland--Looking for more weapons to fight crime in the new, borderless Europe, European Union leaders set out new objectives for closer police and judicial cooperation between countries.

Ending their two-day summit in this lakeside Finnish city, EU leaders agreed to develop a broad range of measures that would allow better cooperation among police forces, ease extradition of criminals, recognize judicial decisions made in other member countries, and crack down on money laundering and trafficking in people and drugs.

The objectives are also aimed at getting a better handle on immigrants and asylum seekers. There are almost no border controls between the 15 nations in the European Union.

AFRICA

World Food Program Cuts Aid to Refugees

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast--The World Food Program has substantially cut emergency aid to more than 1.8 million refugees in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, the U.N. agency said .

The program said the unusual step was taken because of a serious shortfall of funds. International donors had provided less than one-fifth of the $106 million needed to feed refugees and displaced people in those three countries, according to the agency's office in Abidjan. No new contributions had been offered since July.

South African Rival Parties Make Amends

THOKOZA, South Africa--President Thabo Mbeki and a rival party leader, whose followers slaughtered each other in the worst black-on-black political violence in South Africa, honored the dead and pledged to prevent it from ever happening again.

"Our being here together on this occasion marks one of the most important moments of South African history," Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told thousands of people at a soccer field. "It is a moment long overdue."

THE AMERICAS

Anniversary of Pinochet Arrest Celebrated

SANTIAGO, Chile--About 3,000 opponents of Gen. Augusto Pinochet beat drums and danced, marching down Santiago's main street to celebrate the first anniversary of the former dictator's arrest.

At the same time, the ailing general's followers attended a Roman Catholic Mass to pray for his health and early return to Chile. The 83-year-old was arrested Oct. 16, 1998, while in London recuperating from back surgery. He has spent the year battling his extradition to Spain, where he faces torture charges.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Palestinian Land Link Opening Delayed

JERUSALEM--The opening of a land link between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip was delayed for the second time in two weeks because of disagreements over how to operate it, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.

The so-called safe passage was to have opened today, allowing Palestinians for the first time to move relatively freely between the two Palestinian areas that lie on either side of Israel.

However, the Israelis and Palestinians were unable to agree Saturday on the location of a joint office in the Gaza Strip that would hand out travel permits for the Palestinians.

U.S. Planes Strike Southern Iraq

WASHINGTON--U.S. warplanes attacked a surface-to-air missile battery in Iraq's southern "no-fly" zone after it was moved into a position that threatened American and British aircraft, the U.S. military said.

Six Air Force F-16 Falcons and two Navy F/A-18 Hornets used a variety of precision-guided weapons to strike the SAM battery southeast of Baghdad near Al Kut at about 7:30 a.m. EDT, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Any African renaissance will start here. South Africa is where the cake is baked. Everyone else is just making cookies."

-- K.V. Schuurman, chief executive for the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Johannesburg-- page A21