Russian Troops Advance Toward Grozny

GROZNY, Russia--Russian forces bombarded Chechnya and advanced to within five miles of the regional capital of Grozny yesterday, the Russian Tass news agency said. The movement is fueling speculation the Russians might try to storm the city.

Viktor Kazantsev, head of the Russian forces in Chechnya, played down talk of storming the city, saying the main aim remained the defeat of Islamic rebels Moscow blames for a series of bomb blasts in Russian cities and for trying to destabilize the North Caucasus region.

Germany Backs Greenhouse Gas Treaty

BONN--German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder issued an unexpected call for the ratification of an international treaty to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by 2002. Schroeder was speaking at the opening of a two-week conference attended by officials from 168 countries. Greenhouse gases are blamed for global warming.


U.S. Governor Denounces Cuban Embargo

HAVANA--Illinois Gov. George Ryan said he wants the United States to lift the 37-year economic embargo against Cuba.

Ryan, a first-term Republican, spoke after meeting with Cuban dissidents and independent journalists on the third day of his five-day trip. He is the first U.S. governor to visit the Communist-run country since the 1959 revolution and has stressed that his visit was intended to "build bridges" with the Cuban people.

Insecticide Kills Children in Peru

CUSCO, Peru--Twenty-four school children died and 20 more became sick after eating cereal laced with insecticide meant to poison rampaging dogs, Peruvian police said.

The tragedy happened Friday when a couple in the remote Andean village of Huasac mixed milk with insecticide and placed it in a plastic bag outside their home, where they hoped it would be found by dogs that had been attacking their poultry. Instead, a 9-year-old girl picked up the bag on her way to class, thinking it was an ingredient for a school breakfast. A teacher used the milk to prepare the meal for 60 students, 24 of whom died.

Mexican Guerrilla Leader Arrested

MEXICO CITY--Mexican police confirmed they arrested a man accused of being the operating chief of the country's most active guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People. Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Tello told Televisa network that four people, including Jacobo Silva, the rebel chief known as Commander Antonio, were arrested in southern Guerrero state, for allegedly belonging to the guerrilla organization.


Israel Pledges to Boost Ties with Turkey

ANKARA, Turkey--Affirming an alliance that worries the Arab world, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak pledged to boost military cooperation and economic ties with Turkey. Barak's visit to Turkey, the first by an Israeli prime minister in 40 years, comes amid a wave of goodwill over Israel's aid to Turkey following the August earthquake.

Iraq Says U.S., British Bombs Kill Two

BAGHDAD, Iraq--Iraq said two civilians were killed and seven others wounded in American and British attacks on sites in northern Iraq aimed at enforcing a "no-fly" zone in the area. The U.S. military, in a statement from the German-based European Command, said jets patrolling the zone over northern Iraq bombed an Iraqi missile storage facility in response to Iraqi anti-aircraft fire south of Mosul.


Indonesian Military Chief Apologizes

JAKARTA, Indonesia--The leader of the Indonesian military offered a rare apology for a crackdown on protesters who demonstrated last week as lawmakers chose a new president. It was an unusual act of public contrition for Gen. Wiranto, who has been one of the most powerful figures in Indonesia, but whose future appears uncertain under new President Abdurrahman Wahid. Clashes between security forces and protesters in Jakarta left dozens injured and several dead.

U.S. Supports China Joining Trade Group

BEIJING--World Trade Organization membership for China would be the best way to deal with persistent U.S.-Chinese trade disputes, U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. Summers reviewed Beijing's seemingly stalled bid for membership in global trade's rule-setting body with Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji on Sunday, and told business and economic students at Qinghua University that U.S. support for China's entry depends on Beijing agreeing to open its closed markets.

Burmese Monks Seek Food in Thailand

MAE SOT, Thailand--Hundreds of Buddhist monks and nuns have illegally sneaked into Thailand from Burma to seek offerings because of food shortages. Their plight stems from the Burmese military government's closure of the frontier Oct. 2 in response to Thailand's handling of the takeover of Burma's embassy in Bangkok by armed student activists.

The monks and nuns, who normally eat only what they are given by devotees, are not getting enough from their own people after the suspension of cross-border trade sent food prices soaring.


"It will advance the idea of having these two areas as one state."

-- Ghassan Khatib, director, Jerusalem Media and Communication Center , after the opening of a safe passage linking the West Bank and Gaza Strip. -- Page A1

CAPTION: Japanese geologists Hirotaro Fujii, left, and Nobuhisa Nakajima arrive in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, after they and two colleagues were released by Islamic rebels who held them for two months.