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News Briefs I

Witnesses Say McVeigh, Nichols Disagreed over Decision to Bomb

Los Angeles Times

In evidence that could lead to separate trials in the Oklahoma City bombing case, two key government witnesses maintain that Timothy J. McVeigh and Terry L. Nichols had a major falling out in the critical period between when the bomb ingredients were purchased and the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building was destroyed.

According to legal documents filed here since the case was moved from Oklahoma City, lead prosecutor Joseph Hartzler said Michael and Lori Fortier were aware of a split between McVeigh and Nichols over whether to carry out the blast that ultimately claimed 168 lives last April.

"Lori Fortier testified (to a grand jury) that McVeigh was upset in early 1995 because Nichols wanted out and did not want to mix the bomb," Hartzler wrote in a letter last month to defense attorneys.

Furthermore, he added, "Michael Fortier testified that McVeigh solicited his assistance in the bombing in early 1995 because Nichols was expressing reluctance."

The Fortiers' testimony about a rift between McVeigh and Nichols indicates the defense may be able to make a strong case for separate trials for the two defendants. If reports of the disagreement are true, the defendants could be forced to attack each other during the trial.

Syria Will Not Be Represented At Anti-terrorism Summit

The Washington Post

Syria will not be represented at the anti-terrorism summit in Egypt Wednesday because it has no desire to be the target of U.S. and Israeli complaints about known terrorist groups that operate out of Damascus, Middle Eastern diplomats and U.S. officials said Monday.

The government of President Hafez Assad has proposed instead that the United States and Russia reconvene the participants in the 1991 Madrid meeting that led to the diplomatic breakthroughs of the past two years. That would be a much smaller and more focused gathering where Syrian complaints about Israeli conduct could be aired along with Israeli complaints about Syria, Syrian officials said.

The Syrian counteroffer appears to be an adroit diplomatic maneuver that allows Syria to reaffirm its professed support for a Middle East peace agreement even as it boycotts the so-called Summit of Peacemakers.

Syria regards the summit to be held at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh under U.S. and Egyptian sponsorship as a futile exercise that addresses only one side of the issue, according to Syrian officials and Syria's state-controlled media.

The only way to end the violence permanently, the Syrians said, is to achieve a "comprehensive agreement." That is a standard Syrian formulation meaning an agreement by which Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights and South Lebanon in exchange for peace.

Buchanan Will Not Endorse Dole Before GOP Convention

Los Angeles Times

Defying the Republican Party leadership, presidential hopeful Patrick J. Buchanan said Sunday that he will not endorse front-runner Bob Dole before the national convention in August.

With Dole now holding what many consider an unsurmountable lead in the race, much of the suspense in the GOP campaign has shifted to how the other contenders decide to give in, and how much damage they inflict on Dole before they do.

Asked whether he would declare his support for Dole if the Senate majority leader's nomination became certain, Buchanan stated flatly that "there will be no endorsements" before the convention.

Buchanan, speaking on the CBS-TV program "Face the Nation," said he would prefer Dole to Bill Clinton as president, if it came down to that choice, but that he did not share party leaders' concerns that his slashing attacks on Dole might weaken the Kansan in a general election campaign.

"My objective now is to not help Bob Dole at all," he said. "It is to defeat him for the Republican nomination."