Israelis Choose Date

For Early Elections

JERUSALEM -- Israeli officials on Tuesday set March 28 as the date for early parliamentary elections following Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to quit the Likud Party and establish a centrist party.

Opinion polls indicated that the biggest gamble of Sharon's long political career could pay off, giving his new party 30 to 33 seats in the 120-member parliament, enough to virtually assure him a third term.

Meanwhile, Israeli warplanes struck in Lebanon in what Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz described as the largest response to cross-border attacks by guerrillas since 2000.


* PARIS -- The head of an investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Eastern Europe said he was checking 31 suspect planes that had landed in Europe in recent years and was trying to acquire past satellite images of sites in Romania and Poland. Also, several European Union countries -- including Britain, the Netherlands and Finland -- agreed to write the United States on behalf of the E.U. requesting clarification on the reports of secret prisons.


* KANDAHAR, Afghanistan -- Taliban guerrillas have killed an Indian road engineer after his company failed to meet an ultimatum to cease operations in Afghanistan, a purported spokesman for the Islamic militia said. Authorities have not confirmed the assertion. Also Tuesday, a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan killed an American service member and an Afghan interpreter, the military said.

* NEW YORK -- The United States and its partners in the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization dealt a death blow to a project to build two light-water reactors for North Korea to entice it into dismantling its nuclear weapons program, officials said.

-- From News Services