French Minister Resigns Over Scandal
PARIS--French Finance Minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn resigned yesterday to try to clear his name in a corruption scandal, dealing Prime Minister Lionel Jospin his most severe blow since coming to power in mid-1997.
Strauss-Kahn, the architect of France's economic recovery, told reporters he was quitting so that charges he received $96,630 in an alleged employment scam between 1994 and 1996 would not damage the government.
"If I am resigning, and I say this with conviction, it is not because I feel guilty in any way. . . . I took this decision because I believe that morality and a sense of responsibility demand it," Strauss-Kahn said.
He was replaced by Christian Sautter, secretary of state for the budget and an expert in international economics.
Montenegro Makes Mark Legal Tender
PODGORICA, Montenegro--Pro-Western Montenegro decided to make the German mark legal tender alongside the Yugoslav dinar to protect the coastal republic from economic turmoil in Serbia. The decision was Montenegro's first concrete step away from President Slobodan Milosevic's Serb-led Belgrade government since August, when it threatened to quit the Yugoslav federation if it were not granted more autonomy.
Russian Army Presses Ahead in Chechnya
GROZNY, Russia--Russian troops surrounded Chechnya's second-largest city and reported key gains around the regional capital, despite sharpening international criticism of the fighting.
Russian troops surrounded Gudermes, toward which they have been slowly advancing for weeks, the Interfax news agency quoted Russian Gen. Gennady Troshev as saying.
Russian troops said they had seized full control of the Tersky and Bragunsky ridges, two strategic heights rising hundreds of feet over the capital, Grozny, the Russian Tass news agency said, citing a regional commander.
Castro Uses TV to Attack Dissidents
HAVANA--Fidel Castro launched a rare televised attack on the communist island's dissidents, mocking them and accusing them of taking advantage of an upcoming Iberian-American summit to carry their "counterrevolutionary" message to foreign leaders.
He identified many of the dissidents, adding that one had approached embassies here about meeting with leaders during the Nov. 15-16 gathering of heads of state from Spain, Portugal and Latin America. "They were planning a parallel summit," Castro said angrily.
Jorge Olivera Castillo, an independent journalist who was among the many dissidents identified by the Cuban leader, denied Castro's accusation.
Meanwhile, a Havana court upheld a $181.1 billion compensation claim by Cuba against the United States for deaths and injuries during what it terms a 40-year "dirty war" against the Castro government.
Zulu Prince Killed in South Africa
DURBAN, South Africa--A prominent Zulu prince who had led efforts to forge peace between warring factions in KwaZulu-Natal province was assassinated, gunned down by assailants as he tried to flee. Cyril Zulu, the mayor-designate of Durban city and a prominent negotiator in keeping peace between political groups, was shot several times in Lamontville, south of Durban, according to police spokesman Bala Naidoo.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Reformist Iranian Editor Arrested
TEHRAN--A leading Iranian editor was arrested on charges of insulting Islamic values, newspaper sources said in reporting the latest crackdown on the pro-reform media.
Four plainclothes police officers arrested Mashallah Shamsolvaezin, editor-in-chief of the reformist Asr-e Azadegan daily, at his office, his colleagues told the Reuters news service.
Iran's hard-line press court issued a warrant for Shamsolvaezin's arrest last month after his previous newspaper, Neshat, was banned. Until yesterday no attempt had been made to detain him.
Chinese Police Detain Catholic Bishop
BEIJING--Police have detained a 65-year-old bishop of China's underground Roman Catholic Church and his whereabouts are unknown, a U.S.-based church group said.
Police seized Bishop Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding on Aug. 15 in northern Hebei province near Beijing and have held him since without releasing information about his case, the Cardinal Kung Foundation of Stamford, Conn., said. Jia has spent about 20 years of his life in prison, the group said.
Police in Zhengding denied any knowledge of Jia or his arrest.
Indonesia Removes IMF Loan Obstacle
JAKARTA, Indonesia--Indonesia's parliament released an international audit examining its Bank Bali financial scandal, removing a major obstacle to resumption of International Monetary Fund loans.
Indonesian officials had long delayed releasing the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit, which was completed in September. The report implicated several top government officials in a scheme to illegally funnel funds to B.J. Habibie's presidential campaign. It also traced how the funds made their way into dozens of domestic and foreign bank accounts, including those of former legislators.
Taliban Says Bin Laden Likely to Stay
KABUL, Afghanistan--Osama bin Laden will likely remain in Afghanistan after the United States rejected an offer by the suspected terrorist to leave for a secret destination, a spokesman for the ruling Taliban militia said. Washington is demanding bin Laden be handed over to the United States or a third country for trial on charges that he masterminded last year's twin bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa.
The United States has banned trade with or investment in Afghanistan, which also faces U.N. sanctions if it does not deliver bin Laden by Nov. 14.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"The message is that justice will not just stop with Pinochet."
-- Carlos Salinas, of Amnesty International, speaking of the Spanish indictment of leaders of Argentina's "Dirty War" on charges of genocide, torture and terrorism.