Helms to Address U.N. Security Council

Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a vocal critic of the United Nations, plans to give an unprecedented speech to U.N. Security Council members Thursday.

Helms's address, the first ever by a member of Congress to the 15-nation Security Council, will take place in a closed-door session. The 78-year-old senator was invited to speak by Ambassador Richard C. Holbrooke, who chairs the council while the United States holds its rotating presidency this month.

Democratic and Republican members of the Foreign Relations Committee will accompany Helms on the two-day visit to New York. The committee also will hold hearings, outside of the United Nations, on the world body's implementation of bureaucratic and financial reforms that Congress has linked to the payment of Washington's debts to the organization.

Clinton and Assad Discuss Pushing Peace Talks

President Clinton talked by phone with Syrian President Hafez Assad for about an hour yesterday about how to move forward in Israel-Syria peace talks, the White House said.

The talks were to have resumed today in Shepherdstown, W.Va., but were postponed because each side wanted to focus first on its core issues: the Syrians on an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan Heights, and the Israelis on security and normalization of relations.

Albright Cites 4 Nations as Crucial Aid Recipients

As the Clinton administration heads into its final year, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright yesterday cited four countries--Colombia, Nigeria, Indonesia and Ukraine--for special attention and U.S. aid.

"Each can be a major force for stability and progress in its region, and each is at a critical point along the democratic path," Albright said in a speech at the School of Advanced International Studies here. But she did not specify how much assistance the administration plans for the four countries, beyond the $1.3 billion aid package for Colombia announced this month.

Administration to Seek Base-Closing Authority

The Clinton administration's 2001 budget proposal will ask Congress for authority to close more military bases starting in 2003, a senior Pentagon official said yesterday.

In each of the past three years, Defense Secretary William S. Cohen has pressed for more base closings, and each time Congress has said no. Lawmakers are seen as unlikely to go along this year.

"We're going to ask for permission to do base closures again," said Deputy Defense Secretary John Hamre. "We still have excess infrastructure . . . and right now the best process, the most fair process, is the base closure process."