World Watch

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Belfast
The Irish republican leader Gerry Adams denounced "securicrats" who bugged a car that he and other Sinn Fein negotiators had used during peace talks. The device was able to beam the car's location and passengers' conversations to a satellite. One suspect was British intelligence, but Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to comment on the matter. The flap did not stop the Irish Republican Army from making progress in decommissioning its weapons. General John de Chastelain, the Canadian in charge, gave a positive report on his talks with the I.R.A. and other paramilitary groups.

Paris
Braving certain legal action from Britain and the European Commission, France renewed its refusal to lift the ban on British beef imports, citing lingering health concerns over the meat's safety. Imposed in 1996 after resurgence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy--"mad cow" disease--the E.U.'s ban on British beef imports was lifted last August. France and Germany have since defied the E.U. ruling. After negotiations, Britain agreed to many French demands aimed at tightening cattle-screening procedures. In maintaining the ban, however, France has deemed those efforts insufficient to ensure consumer safety. The move may well land France before the European Court of Justice on charges of disobeying E.U. law. The German government has said it will lift the ban as soon as the Bundesrat, the upper legislative house, votes to do so.

Zurich
In its final report, a commission investigating Holocaust victims' funds in Swiss banks identified 53,886 unclaimed accounts that may be linked to victims of Nazi genocide. The value of the accounts opened between 1933 and 1945--could not be determined. The panel, presided over by the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, recommended that 25,187 names with the clearest ties to the accounts be published, allowing victims or their heirs to file claims. While the commission criticized some banks for "questionable and deceitful actions," it found no evidence to support Jewish organizations' assertions that banks had conspired to divert, hide or destroy information relating to dormant accounts. Another report, by an international panel of historians, assailed Switzerland for "declin[ing] to help people in mortal danger" when it turned back more than 24,000 Jews and others from its borders at the height of the Holocaust, dooming thousands to death.

Podgorica
Yugoslav forces occupied Montenegro's main airport, near the capital, Podgorica, and held it for several hours. The dispute over the ownership of the facility, which is also a military air base, highlighted the strained relations between the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation and tiny Montenegro, which has been struggling to break free from Belgrade's grip. The army withdrew after sharp warnings to President Slobodan Milosevic from NATO's top officials. Meanwhile, in the Serbian city of Nis, a prominent ethnic Albanian activist, Dr. Flora Brovina, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly aiding the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army. And after a two-week delay, Milosevic lifted the blockade of an E.U. shipment of heating oil destined for Nis and Pirot.

Skopje
The Macedonian presidential election victory of Boris Trajkovski, the pro-Western governing coalition candidate, was confirmed after a repeat vote at 230 polling stations. Citing an "atmosphere of terror," the leftist candidate Tito Petkovski later dropped fresh complaints of fraud and accepted defeat. The partial rerun of the election was ordered after major irregularities were reported in Nov. 14 balloting in western Macedonia, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians. The police intervened 23 times to stop clashes and at least 14 people were arrested, but Western observers found the vote "generally in order." At some polling stations, however, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported "blatant ballot stuffing and a high level of proxy voting."

Grozny
Russian troops tightened their grip around Grozny, forcing Chechen fighters out of key towns around Chechnya's capital, and moving artillery to within point-blank range. Russian commandos warned the city's estimated 40,000 to 45,000 civilians to leave by Dec. 11 or risk all-out assault. Faced with international outrage at the statement, the Russians denied issuing an ultimatum. It was just a "warning," said General Viktor Kazantsev, commander of Russian forces in the breakaway republic. Most people left in the city are thought to be either too old or infirm to move, or to have nowhere else to go. Many are reportedly ethnic Russians.

Jerusalem
After a four-year hiatus, President Bill Clinton announced the resumption of land-for-peace talks between Israel and Syria, a deal struck by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as she traveled in the Middle East. In the highest-level encounter yet, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa are scheduled to meet in Washington this week to set an agenda for detailed talks somewhere in the region. After the Palestinians quit their own land-for-peace talks with Israel to protest continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Barak announced that Israel would embark on no new building there. The Palestinians resumed contact but remained worried that progress with the Syrians would divert Israel's attention from their track.

Windhoek
Namibian President Sam Nujoma was returned to power with 77% of the presidential vote, while his South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) collected 76% of the ballots for parliamentary seats--an increase of 2% over their last election figures. The party rebuffed a challenge by the recently formed Congress of Democrats that many had expected would prevent SWAPO from winning a two-thirds majority.

Harare
After receiving medical treatment in a Johannesburg clinic, former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam returned to exile in Harare, relieving mounting pressure on the South African government to arrest and extradite him to Ethiopia to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Mengistu, who was granted sanctuary in Zimbabwe after he fled from rebel forces in Ethiopia in 1991, entered South Africa on a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport. Following protests from Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, South Africa received an extradition request from Ethiopia. While the request was "under review," Mengistu hurried back to Zimbabwe--which has refused demands to deport him.

Jakarta
Indonesia's restive Aceh province will not be permitted to vote for independence, according to President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia. Although Wahid has promised a referendum in the staunchly Muslim province--where Acehnese separatists have waged a 10-year guerrilla war against Indonesian rule--voters will be asked only whether Islamic law should be imposed. Secessionist demands have grown significantly since August's independence vote in East Timor, spurred by reports of atrocities by Indonesian forces and the perceived short-changing of the province in the distribution of Indonesia's oil and gas revenues. Hoping to get the guerrilla Free Aceh Movement to the negotiating table, the government has promised to accelerate plans to grant Aceh more autonomy and greater revenue-sharing.

Tam Ky
As flood waters began to recede along the central coast of Vietnam, military helicopters dropped food to many thousands of people in parts of Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces, the two areas hardest hit by recent torrential rains. The deluge, in which more than 115 people were killed and 750,000 were made homeless, struck Vietnam just one month after the worst flooding in a century claimed 600 lives. Officials said their priorities were food, disease prevention and preparations for planting a new rice crop.

Brasilia
Taking another step toward "institutional reconstruction," President Fernando Henrique Cardoso created Brazil's first intelligence agency under civilian rule. Set up much like the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency replaces informal networks left over from the years of military dictatorship, 1964-85. Its network of 1,000 agents is to help authorities crack down on organized drug gangs, whose influence pervades 16 of Brazil's 27 states and has been blamed for turning the country into South America's second most violent nation, after Colombia. General Alberto Cardoso, the new intelligence chief, said the agency has "no ideology apart from democracy and respect for human rights."

Belfast
The Irish republican leader Gerry Adams denounced "securicrats" who bugged a car that he and other Sinn Fein negotiators had used during peace talks. The device was able to beam the car's location and passengers' conversations to a satellite. One suspect was British intelligence, but Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to comment on the matter. The flap did not stop the Irish Republican Army from making progress in decommissioning its weapons. General John de Chastelain, the Canadian in charge, gave a positive report on his talks with the I.R.A. and other paramilitary groups.

Paris
Braving certain legal action from Britain and the European Commission, France renewed its refusal to lift the ban on British beef imports, citing lingering health concerns over the meat's safety. Imposed in 1996 after resurgence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy--"mad cow" disease--the E.U.'s ban on British beef imports was lifted last August. France and Germany have since defied the E.U. ruling. After negotiations, Britain agreed to many French demands aimed at tightening cattle-screening procedures. In maintaining the ban, however, France has deemed those efforts insufficient to ensure consumer safety. The move may well land France before the European Court of Justice on charges of disobeying E.U. law. The German government has said it will lift the ban as soon as the Bundesrat, the upper legislative house, votes to do so.

Zurich
In its final report, a commission investigating Holocaust victims' funds in Swiss banks identified 53,886 unclaimed accounts that may be linked to victims of Nazi genocide. The value of the accounts opened between 1933 and 1945--could not be determined. The panel, presided over by the former U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker, recommended that 25,187 names with the clearest ties to the accounts be published, allowing victims or their heirs to file claims. While the commission criticized some banks for "questionable and deceitful actions," it found no evidence to support Jewish organizations' assertions that banks had conspired to divert, hide or destroy information relating to dormant accounts. Another report, by an international panel of historians, assailed Switzerland for "declin[ing] to help people in mortal danger" when it turned back more than 24,000 Jews and others from its borders at the height of the Holocaust, dooming thousands to death.

Podgorica
Yugoslav forces occupied Montenegro's main airport, near the capital, Podgorica, and held it for several hours. The dispute over the ownership of the facility, which is also a military air base, highlighted the strained relations between the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation and tiny Montenegro, which has been struggling to break free from Belgrade's grip. The army withdrew after sharp warnings to President Slobodan Milosevic from NATO's top officials. Meanwhile, in the Serbian city of Nis, a prominent ethnic Albanian activist, Dr. Flora Brovina, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for allegedly aiding the now-disbanded Kosovo Liberation Army. And after a two-week delay, Milosevic lifted the blockade of an E.U. shipment of heating oil destined for Nis and Pirot.

Skopje
The Macedonian presidential election victory of Boris Trajkovski, the pro-Western governing coalition candidate, was confirmed after a repeat vote at 230 polling stations. Citing an "atmosphere of terror," the leftist candidate Tito Petkovski later dropped fresh complaints of fraud and accepted defeat. The partial rerun of the election was ordered after major irregularities were reported in Nov. 14 balloting in western Macedonia, populated mostly by ethnic Albanians. The police intervened 23 times to stop clashes and at least 14 people were arrested, but Western observers found the vote "generally in order." At some polling stations, however, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported "blatant ballot stuffing and a high level of proxy voting."

Grozny
Russian troops tightened their grip around Grozny, forcing Chechen fighters out of key towns around Chechnya's capital, and moving artillery to within point-blank range. Russian commandos warned the city's estimated 40,000 to 45,000 civilians to leave by Dec. 11 or risk all-out assault. Faced with international outrage at the statement, the Russians denied issuing an ultimatum. It was just a "warning," said General Viktor Kazantsev, commander of Russian forces in the breakaway republic. Most people left in the city are thought to be either too old or infirm to move, or to have nowhere else to go. Many are reportedly ethnic Russians.

Jerusalem
After a four-year hiatus, President Bill Clinton announced the resumption of land-for-peace talks between Israel and Syria, a deal struck by U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as she traveled in the Middle East. In the highest-level encounter yet, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa are scheduled to meet in Washington this week to set an agenda for detailed talks somewhere in the region. After the Palestinians quit their own land-for-peace talks with Israel to protest continued expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, Barak announced that Israel would embark on no new building there. The Palestinians resumed contact but remained worried that progress with the Syrians would divert Israel's attention from their track.

Windhoek
Namibian President Sam Nujoma was returned to power with 77% of the presidential vote, while his South West Africa People's Organization (SWAPO) collected 76% of the ballots for parliamentary seats--an increase of 2% over their last election figures. The party rebuffed a challenge by the recently formed Congress of Democrats that many had expected would prevent SWAPO from winning a two-thirds majority.

Harare
After receiving medical treatment in a Johannesburg clinic, former Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam returned to exile in Harare, relieving mounting pressure on the South African government to arrest and extradite him to Ethiopia to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity. Mengistu, who was granted sanctuary in Zimbabwe after he fled from rebel forces in Ethiopia in 1991, entered South Africa on a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport. Following protests from Amnesty International and other human rights organizations, South Africa received an extradition request from Ethiopia. While the request was "under review," Mengistu hurried back to Zimbabwe--which has refused demands to deport him.

Jakarta
Indonesia's restive Aceh province will not be permitted to vote for independence, according to President Abdurrahman Wahid of Indonesia. Although Wahid has promised a referendum in the staunchly Muslim province--where Acehnese separatists have waged a 10-year guerrilla war against Indonesian rule--voters will be asked only whether Islamic law should be imposed. Secessionist demands have grown significantly since August's independence vote in East Timor, spurred by reports of atrocities by Indonesian forces and the perceived short-changing of the province in the distribution of Indonesia's oil and gas revenues. Hoping to get the guerrilla Free Aceh Movement to the negotiating table, the government has promised to accelerate plans to grant Aceh more autonomy and greater revenue-sharing.

Tam Ky
As flood waters began to recede along the central coast of Vietnam, military helicopters dropped food to many thousands of people in parts of Quang Ngai and Quang Nam provinces, the two areas hardest hit by recent torrential rains. The deluge, in which more than 115 people were killed and 750,000 were made homeless, struck Vietnam just one month after the worst flooding in a century claimed 600 lives. Officials said their priorities were food, disease prevention and preparations for planting a new rice crop.

Brasilia
Taking another step toward "institutional reconstruction," President Fernando Henrique Cardoso created Brazil's first intelligence agency under civilian rule. Set up much like the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Brazilian Intelligence Agency replaces informal networks left over from the years of military dictatorship, 1964-85. Its network of 1,000 agents is to help authorities crack down on organized drug gangs, whose influence pervades 16 of Brazil's 27 states and has been blamed for turning the country into South America's second most violent nation, after Colombia. General Alberto Cardoso, the new intelligence chief, said the agency has "no ideology apart from democracy and respect for human rights.