THE AMERICAS

Columbian Drug Lord's Relatives Arrested

BUENOS AIRES--Authorities in Argentina arrested the widow and son of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, shortly after a television program revealed that police were shadowing the two as part of a money laundering investigation.

Security Minister Miguel Angel Toma said the arrests of Victoria Henao Vallejos and Juan Pablo Escobar in a middle-class Buenos Aires neighborhood had been prodded by the program's revelation. Police had been tracking the two for several months, Toma said, but quickly moved in to arrest Vallejos and her son so as not to lose them.

Mexican President Abolishes Fund

MEXICO CITY--President Ernesto Zedillo, who has eliminated various presidential privileges including hand-picking his successor, has now dispensed with his "secret budget." The 2000 federal budget that Zedillo presented to Congress last week eliminated the fund--a supply of cash the president could use at his discretion and without oversight.

Critics say it was a slush fund that at its peak gave presidents more than $100 million a year with which to line their pockets or extend political favors.

It was part of the tremendous power invested in Mexican presidents after the Mexican Revolution, which ended the 35-year dictatorship of Porfirio Diaz in 1911, replacing it with one-party rule that supplied a new leader every six years.

EUROPE

EU to Take France to Court Over Beef Ban

BRUSSELS--European Union leaders decided to take France to court over its refusal to allow imports of British beef. Agriculture Commissioner David Byrne said the EU's executive body, the European Commission, made the decision even though Britain and France "are very close to a resolution" of the dispute.

Of the 15 EU countries, only France and Germany have yet to reopen their borders to British beef, which was banned in 1996 following an outbreak of "mad cow" disease in British herds. The EU lifted the ban in August.

AFRICA

Angola Says Arrest of Rebel Leader Near

LUANDA, Angola--The Angolan army is closing in on UNITA rebel leader Jonas Savimbi, the head of the armed forces in the southwest African country said. "We know where Savimbi is," Gen. Joao de Matos told state television late Monday. "We are tracking him, we are bombarding him every day and we are going to keep going until we capture him or kill him."

There was no independent verification of the claims. Most of Angola is inaccessible because of fighting in the country's civil war.

Last month, the army dislodged UNITA from its central highland strongholds, turning the tide of the war, which resumed last December when a U.N.-brokered peace agreement collapsed.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Woman Alive Days After Turkish Quake

ANKARA, Turkey--Rescuers found a woman alive today, more than 100 hours after she was trapped under rubble by an earthquake, the NTV news channel said.

It said Sefer Cebeci, 40, was rushed to a hospital where she was being treated for exhaustion and kidney malfunction. She had been buried under concrete in the ruined town of Duzce since Friday, when a magnitude-7.2 quake struck the area in northwestern Turkey.

Many foreign rescue teams had pulled out of the quake area on Tuesday, saying that cold weather made it unlikely anyone had survived under the rubble. More than 500 people died in the quake.

Israelis, Palestinians Deadlocked

JERUSALEM--In what began as a minor tiff but turned into a full-blown dispute, Israelis and Palestinians were deadlocked yesterday over who should decide what land Israel gives up. A top U.S. envoy was unable to settle the argument.

Israel said its exclusive right to sketch West Bank withdrawal maps was anchored in earlier peace accords. The Palestinians disputed that, saying they have to be consulted.

The argument's outcome could have far-reaching effects. It could determine the scope of two more partial West Bank withdrawals Israel has to conduct before the final peace accord, set for September 2000.

Iranian Dissident Refuses Visitors

TEHRAN--A prominent Iranian cleric confined to his house for his dissident views has rejected efforts by authorities to ease a ban on his visitors, his son said. Authorities had given permission to a group of 15 people to visit Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, who was once hand-picked for Iran's top spiritual and political post.

His son, Ahmad, did not say who the 15 people were, but the Khordad newspaper said they included two conservative clerics. Ahmad quoted his father as saying the authorities "have no right to decide whom I can meet and whom I can't. It's either everyone or no one."

ASIA

South Korea Orders Agent Orange Inquiry

SEOUL--South Korea's defense minister has ordered an inquiry into a report that the U.S. military used Agent Orange and other toxic defoliants along the border with North Korea in the late 1960s. The report, televised in Seoul on Monday night, quoted declassified U.S. documents. The U.S. government has never said it used Agent Orange in South Korea.

"At this stage, factual verification is important," South Korean Defense Minister Cho Seong Tae said in ordering an inquiry.

China Defends Crackdown to Annan

BEIJING--China defended its prohibition of a spiritual movement to visiting U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, and authorities hurriedly took away 20 Falun Gong followers who unfurled a banner in Tiananmen Square.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told Annan the government's policy is designed to prevent criminal activity. China banned the Falun Gong four months ago as a threat to society.

Annan, who earlier expressed concern about the government's campaign, said Tang gave him "a full explanation as to how the government sees the group" and that he now has "a better understanding" of the issues involved.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"If the United States starves or bombs Afghanistan to get one man, it will only create a thousand bin Ladens."

-- Imran Kahn, a Pakistani politician and former cricket star.