EUROPE

Yeltsin Signs Test Ban Treaty Bill

ISTANBUL--Russian President Boris Yeltsin, seeking the moral high ground over the United States, said yesterday he had signed a bill approving a global nuclear test ban and sent it to parliament for ratification.

The Senate dealt President Clinton an embarrassing defeat Oct. 13 by rejecting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, drawing widespread international condemnation.

Yeltsin said he had signed the bill and sent it to the Duma, the lower house of parliament, before flying to Istanbul for the 54-nation European security summit at which Moscow is expected to face a barrage of Western criticism over its military offensive in the separatist Chechnya region.

"Today, I have signed the draft law on ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. . . . I call on all states to follow this example," he told journalists after meeting Turkish President Suleyman Demirel.

Clinton, Barak Discuss Mideast Talks

ISTANBUL--President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak met here to discuss developments in the Middle East peace process.

The White House said the discussion was to follow up on a meeting between the two leaders in Oslo last week, and that it had not been precipitated by a delay in an expected Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank.

Both leaders are in Istanbul for a two-day summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe starting today.

Greek Protesters Assail Clinton

ATHENS--Tens of thousands of protesters marched to the U.S. Embassy in Athens shouting anti-American slogans a few days before President Clinton is to visit Greece.

The march to commemorate the 1973 Polytechnic student uprising against the then-ruling military junta is usually marked by strong anti-Americanism, but this year's slogans were aimed more directly at Clinton.

The United States is blamed for having backed the junta, which ruled from 1967 to 1974. And Clinton was widely condemned in Greece for leading the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia, a longtime Greek ally, from March through June of this year.

Russians Drop Mines in Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia--At least two Russian helicopters dropped antipersonnel mines in northern Georgia near the border with Chechnya, officials said.

Russian forces have been battling Chechen militants, and part of the campaign involves blocking the militants' potential escape routes.

Georgia, which is not directly involved in the conflict, is the only country that borders Chechnya.

It was not immediately clear whether the incident near the Georgian village of Shatili was intentional.

ASIA

Indonesian Leader Limits Aceh Vote

JAKARTA, Indonesia--Indonesia's president outlined his proposal for a referendum on the future of strife-torn Aceh, ruling out the possibility of independence, the province's governor said. The Indonesian government will allow a vote in which the Acehnese can choose only between the status quo and greater autonomy within Indonesia, he said.

"The people of Aceh believe the referendum means freedom," Gov. Syamsuddin Mahmud said after a meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid at the presidential palace. "This is not true."

The offer of greater autonomy will include granting the provincial government the right to implement its own laws based on Islamic teachings as well as to retain 75 percent of revenue originating in the oil-rich region.

Ex-Official, Wife Plan Runs in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--The wife of Malaysia's jailed former finance minister Anwar Ibrahim said both she and her husband plan to run against Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's governing coalition in general elections this month.

Wan Azizah Ismail, in her first major statement since Mahathir called for elections last week, said she would run in the Permatang Pauh district in the northern state of Penang. Anwar would run for a parliamentary seat either in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, or in neighboring Selangor state if allowed to do so, his wife said.

THE AMERICAS

Rebels Attack 13 Towns in Colombia

BOGOTA, Colombia--Leftist rebels stormed 13 towns late Tuesday and early yesterday, killing at least eight policemen and a soldier in the first coordinated attacks since beginning a nationwide offensive four months ago, officials said. The army said it killed dozens of rebels in repelling the attacks, which came less than a day after suspected guerrillas detonated a large bomb in the northwest city of Medellin, injuring six people.

"This was a wave of terrorist attacks by the FARC," said Gen. Alfredo Salgado, operational director of the National Police. Military intelligence officials have said the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the country's largest rebel army, plans to stage attacks in and around Bogota before Christmas.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Pope to Visit Holy Land in March

VATICAN CITY--Pope John Paul II will make a millennium pilgrimage to the Holy Land in March--a visit that fulfills a long-held dream even as it thrusts the frail pontiff into the heart of Middle East political and religious tensions.

The pope's visit is scheduled for the last 10 days of March--a month before Easter--and will probably include stops in Jerusalem, Nazareth and Bethlehem, Archbishop Crescenzio Sepe told reporters at the Vatican.

Israeli and Palestinian officials welcomed news of the visit, the first papal trip to the Holy Land since Pope Paul VI entered Jerusalem in 1964, before Israel took control of the whole city in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The Vatican is also pushing ahead on an even more politically fraught trip to Iraq.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"We are sending a strong message that enough is enough."

-- Moeenuddin Haider, Pakistan's interior minister, speaking of the government's crackdown on big-time loan defaulters. --Page A34