THE AMERICAS

Britain Offers New Checkup for Pinochet

SANTIAGO, Chile--The British government agreed yesterday to order new medical checks on Gen. Augusto Pinochet to decide whether the former Chilean dictator should be released from extradition proceedings due to poor health, the government said.

British Home Secretary Jack Straw told the Chilean embassy in London of the decision, according to Chilean Foreign Minister Juan Gabriel Valdes.

Canada Approves Morning-After Pill

OTTAWA--Canada has approved a "morning-after" pill hailed by abortion-rights activists as a contraceptive that prevents pregnancy. However, the decision prompted a boycott by abortion opponents on the grounds that it causes abortion.

The government's health department approved the drug in March, a spokeswoman said, but news of the passage emerged only as the drug company geared up to market it.

3 Soldiers, 6 Rebels Die in Peruvian Clash

AYACUCHO, Peru--Three Peruvian soldiers and six guerrillas died in a jungle highland clash during a military offensive to flush Shining Path rebels from their Andean hideouts, Peruvian military spokesmen said.

The fighting came Thursday, a day after another soldier bled to death after a booby-trapped explosive blew off part of his leg. Maoist rebels, shooting at a helicopter, prevented his rescue.

EUROPE

Ukrainian President's Foes Unite

KIEV, Ukraine--Six former presidential candidates in Ukraine united behind Communist Party hopeful Petro Symonenko, saying he must unseat President Leonid Kuchma in next week's runoff to avert a national tragedy.

The assortment of Symonenko's supporters include some marginal centrists and leftists who lost in the first round of presidential elections on Oct. 31 and two more popular figures--the parliament's hard-line speaker Oleksandr Tkachenko and Socialist Party head Oleksandr Moroz.

75 Win Seats in Britain's House of Lords

LONDON--With a touch of sadness at the passing of ancient privilege, 75 hereditary nobles were confirmed as winners in an unprecedented election in the House of Lords.

The British government is abolishing the right of 759 hereditary nobles to sit in the House of Lords, but it agreed to allow 92 of them--chosen by election--to stay on until it decides a new method of selecting members.

ASIA

Floods Kill Nearly 300 in Vietnam

HANOI--Widespread flooding in central coastal Vietnam has killed nearly 300 people and the death toll is expected to rise with more heavy rains forecast, relief officials said.

Aid officials and state media said several days of flooding--the worst in 100 years--has left scores of people missing across seven provinces that stretch for 350 miles.

India, Russia Sign Defense Accord

NEW DELHI--India and Russia signed a defense cooperation agreement, clearing the way for joint production of fighter planes and the sale of an aircraft carrier to India, a Russian official said.

AFRICA

U.N. Finds Rights Violations in Congo

UNITED NATIONS--The human rights situation has deteriorated in Congo, with reports of arbitrary arrests and executions, rape and an intolerance for dissent, a U.N. investigator said.

Roberto Garreton, a Chilean attorney assigned to survey human rights in Congo (formerly Zaire), faulted rebel forces as well as the government of President Laurent Kabila for the abuses.

Sudan Militia Denies Massacre Reports KHARTOUM, Sudan--A pro-government militia denied it massacred some 25 Sudanese fighters who had supposedly come to southern Sudan for peace talks.

A spokesman for Paulino Matep's militia told the pro-government Akhbar al-Youm newspaper that the fighters were killed in battle after a surprise attack in Benitu, about 500 miles southwest of Khartoum.

Tribunal Frees Rwandan Official

ARUSHA, Tanzania--An international appeals court has freed a former Rwandan government official who was jailed on allegations that he played a leading role in the 1994 genocide.

Appellate judges for the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in The Hague ordered the immediate release of Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, who was being held in Arusha.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Israel Deports Christian Zealot

JERUSALEM--Israel deported the last Christian from a group of 21 detained last month on suspicion of planning violence during the millennium year, police said. An American who calls himself Brother David and had lived in Jerusalem for two decades was put aboard a plane bound for New York.

Peres Suggests Another Rabin Inquiry

JERUSALEM--Former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres said reopening the inquiry into the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin is the only way to answer lingering questions about his death.

"If it [a question] remains unanswered, the unanswering will remain the standard," Peres said. "If there are questions, let's put an end to it."

Iranian Police, Drug Traffickers Clash TEHRAN--Drug traffickers and policemen clashed in eastern Iran, leaving dozens dead in one of the bloodiest gun battles between the two sides, according to media reports.

A search for the drug traffickers is underway following violence in the city of Iranshahr, 810 miles southeast of the capital, Tehran, television news reported. Officials said about 30 policemen were killed.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"Well, we got up. We got down. We spoke some words I was not familiar with."

Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura, on his participation in a Shinto ceremony in Tokyo. -- Page A21