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News Briefs I

Palestinian Authority Gets $3 Billion Boost from Abroad

The Washington Post

International donors pledged more than $3 billion in fresh financial aid Monday to Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority at an American-sponsored conference here aimed at building on the modest momentum of October's interim Israeli-Palestinian accord.

President Clinton, who addressed the conference in the State Department auditorium, said the administration is "developing a package" to increase the U.S. contribution by $400 million over the next five years. The increase, if funded by Congress, would come on top of roughly $500 million in existing aid plans for the same period.

Monday's international pledges - which could reach $4 billion over five years if the donors firm up provisional offers - are nearly equivalent each year to the Palestinian Authority's entire $860 million budget. On an annual basis they would represent about a quarter of the $3.3 billion Palestinian economy, which has been in sharp decline since the peace process began. The European Union is the largest overall donor, with pledges of $2 billion.

Since Israel and the Palestinians reached mutual recognition in September 1993, every Palestinian economic indicator, from employment to per capita income, has crashed. Adjusted for inflation, the gross domestic product was smaller last year than in 1995.

Starr Threatens to Charge Minor Witness With Perjury

The Washington Post

Independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr has threatened to indict a minor player in the White House sex scandal for allegedly lying to a grand jury in what would be the first criminal charges to emerge from the 10-month Monica S. Lewinsky investigation.

Julie Hiatt Steele, who disputed former White House volunteer Kathleen E. Willey's account of an unwelcome sexual encounter with President Clinton, faces possible federal counts of perjury, making false statements and obstruction of justice in connection with her testimony in the Lewinsky case.

Starr deputy David Barger outlined the potential indictment in a Nov. 20 letter to Steele's lawyer, inviting her to explain why she should not be charged.

Chile Seeks Compromise With Britain, Spain Over Pinochet

The Washington Post

He may be wanted in three countries for trial on criminal charges, but Augusto Pinochet is no longer wanted in the luxurious private clinic where he has been waiting out his period of house arrest pending extradition proceedings.

As diplomats from Britain, Chile and Spain continued looking for a compromise to end the impasse surrounding the former Chilean president, the Grovelands Priory hospital said Monday it told Pinochet, 83, that he must give up his suite there and "find alternative accommodation as soon as possible."

The hospital said Pinochet no longer needs medical attention, having completed recovery from the back surgery he underwent last month. Another, although unstated, reason for the eviction order may well be that the exclusive atmosphere of the clinic has been sullied by the band of Chilean exiles who gather outside its wrought-iron fence each day chanting "Murderer!" and "Genocide!"

A group of conservative political activists here reportedly has rented a suburban apartment for Pinochet. He is expected to leave the hospital Tuesday.