AFRICA

Libya's Gadhafi Denounces Terrorism

TRIPOLI, Libya--Working to dismantle his country's isolation, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi issued a strong denunciation of terrorism yesterday and said the United States should take the next move to improve ties.

The denunciation came in a joint statement by Gadhafi and Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, who was making the first visit to Libya by a Western leader since U.N. sanctions were lifted in April.

In their statement, the two leaders said their governments "underlined the necessity of denying sustenance and protection to those responsible for terrorist acts."

Zimbabwean Troops Bombarded in Congo

KINSHASA, Congo--A large contingent of Zimbabwean troops in Congo has come under a heavy rebel bombardment that is threatening to escalate the conflict in the former Zaire, Zimbabwean and U.N. officers said. They said southern African allied forces backing the Congolese government against the rebels had been unable to resupply the troops, trapped for days in the remote northeastern garrison town Ikela.

Diplomats in Kinshasa, the capital, expressed concern that the fighting could signal an escalation of the 16-month-old Congolese war and further derail a shaky peace deal.

THE AMERICAS

Cuba Tells U.S. to Return Boy

HAVANA--Cuba warned the United States that already hostile relations could deteriorate further if U.S. authorities did not immediately return a 5-year-old Cuban boy at the center of a custody battle. The warning indicated Cuba's Communist leadership intended to take a tough line over the case of Elian Gonzalez, who was rescued on Nov. 25 in Florida waters after surviving the sinking of a boat carrying illegal migrants, including his mother and stepfather, who were killed.

The boy is staying with relatives in Miami, who want him to remain there, but his father and grandparents in Cuba have called for him to be returned.

Nobel Winner Seeks Genocide Charges

MADRID--Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu of Guatemala asked a Spanish court to charge four Guatemalan generals, including former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, with genocide. Menchu made a request to Spain's High Court--which secured the arrest of Chile's Augusto Pinochet in London last year--to prosecute Rios Montt and seven others for alleged involvement in a series of massacres in Guatemala in the 1980s. The court has not decided whether to accept the case.

"Spain has opened a window so that victims no longer have to hide their pain," Menchu told reporters after presenting her written petition.

EUROPE

German Parliament Begins Kohl Probe

BERLIN--In a growing scandal centered on former chancellor Helmut Kohl, German lawmakers opened a probe into secret payments and possible graft that could permanently tarnish his legacy as a statesman. Kohl admitted this week that he had managed secret party accounts, but he has repeatedly denied they were set up so he could receive bribes or kickbacks.

Testing that assertion, Parliament will now examine whether government decisions were influenced by covert payments to Kohl's party, the Christian Democratic Union, while he was its leader. The probe was triggered by recent revelations about a covert $530,000 payment to the treasurer of the Christian Democrats while Kohl was chancellor and party chairman in 1991.

Chechens Dig In Near Grozny

GROZNY, Russia--The Russian military said that Chechen rebels were putting up a tough defense of Grozny and nearby areas, but that Russian troops had surrounded a key city just outside the capital. After days of heavy fighting, Russian troops encircled Argun and were fighting street battles for control of the city, commander Gennady Troshev said, according to Russian news reports.

Casualties appeared high in Argun, three miles east of Grozny. But the counts were contradictory, with the Russians saying 200 rebels and none of their troops were killed, and the Chechens saying 150 Russians had died, the Russian Tass news agency reported.

Russia to Expel U.S. Diplomat

MOSCOW--A U.S. diplomat who was briefly detained in Moscow on espionage charges has been ordered to leave Russia and will not be allowed to return, a Foreign Ministry official said. Spokesman Yevgeny Voronin refused to specify when the diplomat, identified as Cheri Leberknight, was expected to leave, and indicated that Russian authorities have not set a strict time frame for her departure.

Chernobyl Reactor Shut Down

KIEV, Ukraine--Ukraine's nuclear power authorities said a minor malfunction had shut down the last working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant just days after it was restarted following lengthy repair work. A spokeswoman for the state-run nuclear energy company Energoatom said radiation levels remained normal after Wednesday's cooling system leak and shutdown.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Iran-Contra Documents Seized in Israel

JERUSALEM--Documents and tapes linked to the Iran-contra affair have been seized from the office of an Israeli newspaper publisher and one-time arms dealer, a lawyer in the case said. The office of Yaakov Nimrodi, acting publisher of the Maariv daily, was searched this week as part of an investigation involving Nimrodi's son, Ofer, who is suspected of having plotted the murder of a state witness in a wiretapping scandal. Police would not say what material was taken from Nimrodi's office.

The Iran-contra scandal erupted in the mid-1980s when Israel and the United States secretly sold weapons to Iran while publicly condemning arms sales to the country. The weapons were sent to Iran in exchange for Iran's agreement to work for the release of U.S. hostages held in Lebanon by pro-Iranian Shiite Muslims.

Nimrodi, a former agent in Iran for Israel's Mossad secret service, was one of three Israeli middlemen in the deal. Part of the profits were funneled to anti-Sandinista insurgents in Nicaragua known as contras.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

She's perfect! She's the Bionic Princess!

-- Francis Balace, University of Liege historian, on Mathilde d'Udekem d'Acoz, who will wed Belgium's Prince Philippe, the heir to the throne, Saturday night. -- Page A25