Austrian Apologizes for Nazi Comments
VIENNA--Distancing himself from what he called "misleading comments," far-right Austrian leader Joerg Haider apologized to his country's Jewish community for his past praise of Nazi policies.
His comments were the latest aimed at changing his image following Oct. 3 elections that catapulted the Freedom Party into second place in the polls and made him a key player in negotiations for Austria's next government.
But after Haider spoke, tens of thousands of people rallied in downtown Vienna to demonstrate against any participation by Haider or his party in the government, and to protest the worsening climate in Austria for minorities and foreigners.
Croatian President's Health Deteriorates
ZAGREB, Croatia--Croatian President Franjo Tudjman's medical team acknowledged that the 77-year-old leader's health has deteriorated and that he is undergoing intensive treatment.
In an additional sign that the situation is serious, Vladimir Seks, a senior member of Tudjman's ruling party, said parliament will not be dissolved, as previously planned. Parliament will convene as scheduled until Nov. 27, when its mandate expires ahead of new elections, tentatively scheduled for Dec. 22.
Tudjman, long rumored to be suffering from cancer, was rushed to a Zagreb hospital 12 days ago to treat a perforation in his large intestine. He subsequently developed peritonitis.
Apartment Collapse Death Toll Rises
FOGGIA, Italy--Screams of relatives punctuated the recovery of bodies at a flattened apartment house in the southern city of Foggia, the scene of Italy's deadliest building collapse in decades. The death toll rose to 34, with almost as many still missing.
One of the latest bodies retrieved was blackened, caught by a slow-burning fire seeping through the underground garage where many of the victims were believed to be trapped. The fire has diminished hope of finding more survivors. The six-floor building collapsed early Thursday, trapping 70 to 75 people inside. Authorities said 17 residents escaped or were rescued.
Kyrgyzstan Elections Set for February
BISHKEK, Kyrgyzstan--Kyrgyzstan said it would hold parliamentary elections on Feb. 20, 2000, five years after the former Soviet state's last ballot. The 105-member Kyrgyz parliament is considered the most free and influential in the five former Soviet Central Asian states.
Argentine President-Elect Hospitalized
BUENOS AIRES--Argentine President-elect Fernando de la Rua, due to take office Dec. 10, was taken to a hospital with a lung problem, but doctors said his condition was improving.
The medical director of the Buenos Aires hospital where he was treated said de la Rua, 62, who won the Oct. 24 presidential election, was diagnosed with pneumothorax, in which air had escaped from his lung and had built up in his chest cavity.
THE MIDDLE EAST
Israel to Withdraw Some Troops
RAMALLAH, West Bank--Israel will withdraw its troops from 5 percent of the West Bank on Monday, even though negotiators have yet to work out a last-minute dispute over which areas will be turned over to Palestinian rule.
The two sides said after a meeting between Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and the Israeli public security minister, Shlomo Ben-Ami, that they are close to resolving the disagreement. "The 5 percent will be handed over by November 15th," Ben-Ami said.
The Israeli Cabinet approved the withdrawal map on Wednesday and Israeli negotiators presented it to Arafat a day later. However, Arafat refused to sign the map.
Commonwealth Suspends Pakistan
DURBAN, South Africa--Leaders of the 54-nation Commonwealth agreed Friday to suspend military-ruled Pakistan, a move which gives the country two years to reinstate democracy.
Commonwealth officials said Pakistan would have two years from the confirmation of its suspension to reinstate civilian rule or face expulsion from the association, which groups mainly English-speaking nations, many of them former British colonies.
Burns Compound Indian Suffering
BHUBANESHWAR, India--Scores of people have suffered serious skin burns in eastern India, relief workers said, raising fears that a killer cyclone also unleashed acid from a damaged fertilizer plant into ponds where villagers bathe.
The death toll from the cyclone jumped to 9,392 on Friday after 1,736 more bodies were discovered in Ersama, about 185 miles south of Calcutta, an official in nearby Jagatsinghpur district said. With thousands of people washed out to sea and unclaimed bodies rotting or cremated in mass pyres, the number of victims was still expected to rise.
S. Korea Dismisses Top Police Officers
SEOUL--President Kim Dae Jung dismissed top police officers after the arrests of several policemen on corruption charges related to a deadly fire.
Kim Kwang Sik, head of the National Police Agency, and Shin Bo Ki, head of the Inchon police force, were fired for failing to discipline subordinates, government officials said.
The move followed reports that a number of policemen took bribes from the owner of an illegal bar in Inchon, 30 miles west of Seoul, where a fire killed 55 people, many of them teenagers. It was South Korea's worst fire in a quarter-century.
Malaysia to Hold Early Vote
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Malaysia's Election Commission set Nov. 29 for early general elections, prompting criticism from opposition parties who complained it gave them too little time to campaign.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad called the early vote and dissolved parliament this week. Critics said it was intended to catch the opposition off-guard. Still, the wife of jailed opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim announced she was ready to run for a seat in parliament, possibly even the one held by Mahathir.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"Violence has always been prevalent in our schools, but what is changing is the quality of that violence."
-- Hans Merkens, professor of youth culture at the Free University of Berlin