THE AMERICAS

Honduras Seeks Help in Nicaraguan Clash

MANAGUA, Nicaragua--Honduras sought foreign observers yesterday to help avoid a military showdown with neighboring Nicaragua, as the two countries continued to fight over an area of Atlantic water rich in fishing and potential oil and natural gas resources.

The Honduran foreign ministry requested observers from the United Nations and Organization of American States "as a preventative measure to maintain peace, stability and security in the Central American region."

The request followed days of escalating tensions over a maritime treaty granting Honduras and Colombia 50,000 square miles of Atlantic waters historically claimed by Nicaragua. The rhetoric has grown increasingly bellicose as each country has accused the other of assuming a threatening posture.

U.S. Requests Extradition of Colombians

BOGOTA, Colombia--The United States has requested the extradition of 30 Colombian drug suspects arrested in a major sweep two months ago, U.S. Ambassador Curtis Kamman said.

Among those named in the petition is Fabio Ochoa, a former top leader of the Medellin cocaine cartel.

The requests were delivered as Colombia, the source of 80 percent of the world's cocaine, is resuming extradition of its nationals after a nine-year hiatus.

Colombian police, acting on a U.S. request, arrested Ochoa and 29 other men and women on Oct 13. The suspects are accused of belonging to an international mafia that smuggled 30 tons of cocaine a month into the United States through Mexico.

THE MIDDLE EAST

Palestinians Rally for Wounded Lawmaker

NABLUS, West Bank--Hundreds of Palestinians marched in the West Bank city of Nablus in support of a lawmaker who was shot and wounded by masked gunmen after he spoke out against corruption in the Palestinian Authority.

Demonstrators hoisted Moawiyeh Masri aloft outside his house and chanted "Allah akbar," or "God is great," as baton-wielding Palestinian police tried to contain crowds that flooded into the streets after Muslim Friday prayers.

Masri, known to be close to the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, was among 20 signatories of a leaflet that accuses Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat of turning a blind eye to corruption in self-rule areas of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Arafat Says Peace Talks Going in CirclesJERUSALEM--Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat told his cabinet that peace talks with Israel were going in circles and warned that Jewish settlement activity would deal a "killer blow" to progress.

Arafat's gloomy assessment came ahead of a Middle East mission by Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright designed to test the temperature of the peace process in the run-up to a February deadline for a framework accord on a final peace.

"There is no progress in the negotiations and it seems that they are going round in empty circles despite the many meetings that have taken place between the two sides," the official Palestinian WAFA news agency quoted Arafat as saying.

AFRICA

Holbrooke Toughens Stance on Angola

LUANDA, Angola--American envoy Richard Holbrooke announced a new U.S. focus on one of the African continent's longest wars--the conflict in Angola. He called for stricter sanctions against UNITA rebels and human rights reform on all sides.

Holbrooke, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and architect of peace accords that helped end the war in Bosnia, harshly criticized Angola's rebel leader and announced that he would call for a special U.N. Security Council session to crack down on Jonas Savimbi's war-making machine.

The diplomat balanced his support for tighter sanctions on UNITA rebels with blunt words for the Angolan government, which has been accused of human rights violations.

Namibian President Set for Third Term

WINDHOEK, Namibia--Namibian President Sam Nujoma looked set to rule for a third term and his ruling South West Africa People's Organization party was comfortably ahead as results came in from presidential and parliamentary elections.

Electoral officials in this southwest African republic said it was too early to say whether Nujoma's party would retain a two-thirds majority in the 72-seat National Assembly as the count slowly continued after voting Tuesday and Wednesday.

U.N. Prosecutor Allowed in Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda--Rwanda agreed to allow the chief prosecutor of a U.N. criminal tribunal into the country after she challenged the tribunal's decision to release a top genocide suspect.

The Rwandan government earlier suspended relations with the U.N. Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and denied the prosecutor, Carla Del Ponte, an entry visa to protest the court's decision to free Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza.

EUROPE

EU Abandons Oil Deliveries in Serbia

BELGRADE--The European Union said it abandoned its first attempt to deliver heating oil to two opposition-held towns in southern Serbia because of obstructions by the Serbian authorities. But they vowed to try again.

Meanwhile, the Serbian state oil monopoly said it was stepping into the breach by delivering oil where Europe had failed, saying it was doing so because of an appeal by Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic's ruling Socialist Party. Its move was aimed at making maximum political capital of the EU's failed politically-motivated scheme, which was geared toward helping Yugoslavia's weak opposition oust Milosevic.

ASIA

Aceh Rebels Abort Plans to Protest

LHOKSEUMAWE, Indonesia--Indonesia's restive Aceh province was very quiet today, with few reports of violence which many had expected to accompany the anniversary of the founding of its increasingly popular rebel movement.

Separatists had called for a show of defiance to mark the 23rd anniversary of their Free Aceh Movement. But worried rebel leaders went on radio and television asking people to pray rather than protest following a warning by Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid that the government was prepared to "use repressive forces."

QUOTE OF THE DAY

"This is where the doctor's role goes from caregiver to undertaker."

-- Christopher Ouma, a Kenyan doctor who treats AIDS patients.