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News Briefs, part 1

Bosnian Peacekeepers Seek Additional Troops

Los Angeles Times
ZAGREB, Croatia

The civilian and military heads of the U.N. peacekeeping mission for the Balkans appealed Thursday for a near doubling of the troops deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina, warning a precarious cease-fire in Sarajevo could collapse without swift reinforcement.

Yasushi Akashi, the U.N. Protection Force chief, called on the United States and other NATO countries to send 10,650 troops, 500 civilian police and 150 military observers to bolster the 12,000 U.N. troops already in Bosnia.

Gen. Jean Cot, the French military commander of the 29,000-strong U.N. Protection Force, targeted the United States in his appeal for troops that could be deployed quickly.

The appeals by Akashi and Cot were directed at the United States, which has repeatedly stated it will not send ground troops to Bosnia unless there is a peace agreement negotiated and endorsed by all three warring factions -- Bosnian Muslims, Serbs and Croats. Cot criticized the American position as "not very courageous."

Spy Case Prosecutors Hoping For More Help from Ames' Wife

The Washington Post

In the first hours after her Feb. 21 arrest, Maria del Rosario Casas Ames seemed to emerge as the government's star witness against her husband. Not only did she tell the FBI that Aldrich Hazen Ames was a spy for the Russians, but she also began describing how he did it, authorities said.

But sometime that afternoon Rosario Ames stopped talking.

If the FBI can get her to cooperate again, it would be powerful ammunition for prosecutors trying to pull together an airtight case against her husband, a 32-year veteran of the CIA. Authorities allege that Aldrich Ames revealed names of U.S.-paid spies, which may have led to at least 10 deaths, and turned over CIA secrets to his Soviet and Russian handlers.

Those familiar with the case -- named Nightmover by the FBI -- say that his wife's cooperation could increase the pressure on him to start talking too.

Although conviction of Aldrich Ames is the main goal of prosecutors, simply locking him up for the rest of his life would not satisfy one of the primary needs of the government. Authorities want Ames to tell the CIA everything he passed along to Moscow and how it was done in order to determine the losses to U.S. intelligence.

Without his cooperation, it is doubtful the CIA can completely assess the consequences of the alleged espionage, investigators said.

N.Y. Group Negotiating to Test, Distribute Abortion Pill in U.S.

Los Angeles Times

Six years after the controversial RU-486 abortion pill was legalized in France, a New York-based population research group and Roussel Uclaf, the drug's manufacturer, are engaged in negotiations to allow testing and distribution of the drug in the United States.

The Population Council, a nonprofit organization devoted to improving access to birth control, is "engaged in active, high-level, negotiations with Roussel on a daily basis,' said Sandra Waldman, a spokeswoman for the organization.

There is no timetable set for progress in the talks. Waldman expressed optimism that the two sides would eventually reach agreement.

American women were given a legal method of obtaining the pill last month when Britain -- one of four countries where RU-486 is legal -- agreed to allow foreigners to obtain the pill there for a $500 fee. Non-residents had been barred from using the drug.

RU-486, when taken with a second hormone, induces a "chemical abortion" and is considered 96 percent effective in ending a pregnancy.

The drug has been a subject of emotional debate since it was legalized in France in 1988. Under threat of boycott from anti-abortion opponents, Roussel stopped distributing the pill a month after its approval. Two days later, however, the French health minister ordered the company to resume distribution, declaring that "RU-486 became the property of women, not just the drug company."

Roussel complied in France, but the company was unwilling to introduce the drug in the U.S. market because of similar boycott threats and former President Bush's opposition to abortion.

The company switched its position last April and agreed to move toward American distribution. Roussel, however, wants to keep its role to a minimum by selling its technology but not joining in the manufacture or distribution of the drug here.

The administration has given its permission for Population Council to negotiate with Roussel. Limited clinical trials already have been conducted at the National Institutes of Health and the University of Southern California Medical Center.

In addition to France and Britain, Sweden and China also have legalized the pill.