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World Briefs I

Albright Urges Israeli Timeout' From Construction and Reprisals

The Washington Post

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright called Thursday night for a "timeout" in Israeli settlement construction and reprisals against Palestinians, saying they diminish prospects for implementation of the 1993 Oslo peace agreements because the Palestinians regard them as provocative.

She issued the appeal following a meeting with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in which he promised full cooperation in the fight against anti-Israeli terrorism. Albright has publicly pressured Arafat to crack down on radical Palestinian groups, and Arafat "made what she regarded as the right kind of commitment," a senior U.S. official said.

Albright did not retreat from her endorsement of Israel's demand that Arafat make a credible commitment to eradication of terrorism as the essential condition for resuming implementation of the Oslo agreements. "To be effective, the Palestinian Authority's fight (against terrorism) must be comprehensive, relentless and sustained," she said in Ramallah. "It cannot be pursued only when it is convenient to do so."

Albright told Arafat, a senior official said, that "she needed a commitment and action on the subject of security" before she could make a credible approach to the Israelis on the political and economic issues." The message, the official said, was: "President Clinton and I want to help, but if you don't, we can't."

Annan Urges Patience As Congo Holds Off Investigation

The Washington Post

Congolese officials apparently continued Thursday to block U.N. investigators from visiting an area where refugees allegedly were massacred. But Secretary General Kofi Annan SM '72 said the world community should show patience in seeking President Laurent Kabila's cooperation with the inquiry.

U.N. officials have been frustrated for months in their attempts to investigate reports of mass killings of Rwandan refugees by forces loyal to Kabila during the civil war that ended in May when Kabila's insurgents wrested power from the late dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko.

Despite Kabila's promises of full cooperation, his government has foiled any movement throughout the summer by putting a succession of obstacles and objections in the path of the U.N. team. Last weekend, Kabila sent a letter to Annan promising yet again to grant access to the investigative team, which arrived in the country last month.

Annan also said the record of rights abuses in the region is "disturbing" and requires investigation both to learn precisely what happened and to punish perpetrators. He added that if Congolese officials continue to impede the investigation, "the Security Council and world opinion eventually will have to draw their own conclusions" about what is going on there.

Clinton to Be Briefed Today On Tobacco Deal Review

The Washington Post

President Clinton is to receive a briefing Friday on the results of a three-month review of a proposed settlement with the tobacco industry, with his advisers still at odds on how much the deal should be toughened at the expense of cigarette makers.

There also is disagreement on how precise Clinton should be in spelling out where he believes the settlement falls short, according to administration officials familiar with the deliberations. He is tentatively planning to make his views on the tobacco settlement public next week.

Some advisers believe Clinton should specify, with dollar amounts, how the deal needs to be improved to win his approval, sources said. Others, including Vice President Al Gore, are urging Clinton to avoid specifics and issue a general statement making clear the settlement as drafted is too soft on tobacco companies and does not do nearly enough to ensure that youth smoking will decline over the next decade.

One option to be presented to Clinton is to limit the tax deductibility of the penalties, increasing the cost to the industry. But some administration officials believe the penalties should be increased by as much as four times their current level.