EUROPE

France Issues Warrant for War Criminal

PARIS--France issued an international arrest warrant yesterday for Maurice Papon, an 89-year-old former Vichy official who fled the country to avoid prison for his role in deporting Jews to Nazi death camps in World War II.

Authorities said they did not know Papon's whereabouts, but it was disclosed that he had been in Switzerland until last Friday, when he was asked to leave. Adding to the air of mystery over his disappearance was the fact that Papon had been under police protection until he left France last week.

France's highest court yesterday upheld Papon's 1998 conviction on charges of crimes against humanity. He had been allowed to remain free after his conviction, but he was required to spend Wednesday night in jail prior to a court appearance yesterday at which he was to hear a ruling on his appeal for clemency. The conviction was automatically upheld when Papon failed to show up.

Outlook Is Grim for N. Ireland Talks

BELFAST--Peace prospects for Northern Ireland appeared grim after Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said mediation talks will probably fail and police unearthed signs of armed republican militancy.

Security forces in Ireland arrested eight men and two 14-year-old boys after finding a firing range in an underground bunker on remote farmland. The swoop came as parties in neighboring Northern Ireland prepared for the final phase of crunch talks today aimed at rescuing the stalled Good Friday peace agreement.

Adams, whose Sinn Fein party is the political ally of the Irish Republican Army, was bleak about the prospects for a talks review, which is being conducted by U.S. mediator George Mitchell. "I think on balance that the Mitchell review will probably not succeed," he said at a fund-raising event in New York.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Israeli Police Question Netanyahu on Gifts

JERUSALEM--Israeli police grilled former prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his wife for nine hours, pressing them about the contents of dozens of boxes--some marked "Fragile, pretty things"--that police suspect contained gifts the couple kept illegally.

The questioning came a day after police raided the Netanyahus' home and office and carted away the boxes in a media event that allies of the controversial hard-liner claimed was part of a political persecution. Most of the items in question had been in boxes in a storeroom at the Central Bureau of Statistics. Civil servants are forbidden to keep gifts in Israel.

The Netanyahus' lawyers called the suspicions groundless and said the boxes were in the warehouse precisely because the Netanyahus were reviewing which items belonged to them and which belonged to the state.

Bomb Kills Former Minister in Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey--Former Turkish culture minister and prominent secularist academic Ahmet Taner Kislali died in a bombing that police suspect may have been carried out by Islamic militants.

THE AMERICAS

Hurricane Jose Loses Steam in Caribbean

CHARLOTTE AMALIE, U.S. Virgin Islands--Hurricane Jose was downgraded to a tropical storm after striking a chain of Caribbean islands, ripping roofs off homes, hurling sailboats out of harbors and disrupting tourism.

The storm was 50 miles east-northeast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, with winds of 65 mph heading west into open seas late yesterday. Jose had reached winds of over 100 mph Wednesday.

Colombian Rebels, Government Meet

BOGOTA, Colombia--Leaders of Colombia's second-largest rebel group met Colombian government envoys in Communist-ruled Cuba for talks that could pave the way for future peace negotiations, authorities said.

Colombian Foreign Minister Guillermo Fernandez said the secret meeting with the National Liberation Army, which has some 5,000 combatants, was held Tuesday and Wednesday with the backing of Cuban President Fidel Castro.

U.S., Russia Begin More Arms Talks

MOSCOW--Russia and the United States started another round of arms-control talks, but there appeared to be little chance of overcoming disagreements over U.S.-proposed changes to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

The two sides planned to discuss U.S. desires to modify the ABM treaty, as well as prospects for a START III nuclear arms reduction treaty.

AFRICA

Rebels Join Cabinet in Sierra Leone

FREETOWN, Sierra Leone--Sierra Leonean President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah named four rebel leaders as ministers in his cabinet, thus delivering on his most difficult commitment in a civil war peace accord. Under the pact, the government is to share power with leaders of guerrillas accused of killing, raping or hacking off the limbs of an estimated 30,000 civilians.

ASIA

Strong Quake Rattles Southern Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan--A strong earthquake jolted southern Taiwan this morning, collapsing several homes, cutting off electricity and triggering a fire at a university, seismologists and local media reported. There were no immediate reports of deaths, but at least 38 people were injured.

The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.4, was centered near the city of Chiayi, about 180 miles south of Taipei, the Central Weather Bureau said. The bureau said the quake was unrelated to the 7.6-magnitude temblor that struck central Taiwan on Sept. 21 and killed more than 2,300 people.

Elephants Rampage in Indian Village

GAUHATI, India--Wild elephants broke into a cluster of thatched huts, guzzled rice beer fermenting in casks and then tore the village apart in a drunken rampage, trampling four people to death and injuring six, a wildlife official said yesterday.

QUOTE OF THE DAY:

"I heard people screaming, people crying, people shouting."

-- Eliziu Gusmao, describing a massacre he said he witnessed at a church in Suai, East Timor