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South Africa mediates Angola dispute

South African Foreign Minister Pik Botha met with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos on Wednesday to try to arrange a summit with dos Santos' rival on a national unity government and averting renewed civil war. Jonas Savimbi, leader of the opposition UNITA party, has said elections last month in which he is trailing were rigged. Botha said he thought both men were concerned about the need for stability and unity. "I think we have made progress," he said. "The next step will be a meeting between President dos Santos and Savimbi. They have to decide how they will go forward." Savimbi told Botha on Tuesday that he did not intend to renew hostilities and would return his generals to the national army. He had withdrawn them to protest the election.

Former hostages sue Iran for $600-million

WASHINGTON _ Two former U.S. hostages in Lebanon sued Iran for $600-million Wednesday, charging it was responsible for their abduction and torture. The suit was filed in U.S. District Court by Joseph Cicippio and David Jacobsen, the former hostages, and by Cicippio's wife, Elham. They charged that Iran committed "commercial terrorism" and "purposely directed the taking of the hostages in Lebanon." The former hostages said the kidnappings were aimed at forcing the United States to release frozen Iranian funds.

Palestinian protester dies of heart attack

JERUSALEM _ A Palestinian inmate who joined in a two-week hunger strike for better prison conditions died of a heart attack Wednesday, touching off rioting in his neighborhood, authorities said. It was the first death related to the strike, which was suspended Sunday to allow negotiations with Israeli authorities over the prisoners' demands for reforms. Prisons Authority spokeswoman Shulamit Meiri identified the dead man as Hussein Nimr Asad, 26, a resident of east Jerusalem serving a prison term for membership in an enemy organization. Police used rubber bullets to face down tire burnings and stone-throwings in east Jerusalem shortly after Asad's death was announced. One man was slightly injured.

Cuba protests attack on tourist hotel

HAVANA _ Cuba said Wednesday it had strongly protested to the United States a machine-gun attack against a tourist hotel at the northern Cuban beach resort of Varadero. A Cuban Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said the protest was over an incident Oct. 7 in which a Spanish-Cuban joint-venture hotel, the five-star Melia Varadero, was strafed with machine-gun fire from the sea on Cuba's northern coast. No one was hurt. A Miami newspaper Wednesday quoted the leader of a rightist Cuban exile group as saying his commandos attacked a "military installation" in Cuba last week.

Explosion rocks Angola ammunition dump

LUANDA, Angola _ A huge blast rocked an ammunition dump in the Angolan capital early today, witnesses said, sending rockets into the night sky. There were no immediate reports of casualties. Witnesses reported fighting before and after the blast near the residence of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. Fears of renewed civil war have grown since former rebel chief Jonas Savimbi threatened to resume fighting if results of last month's multiparty elections were published before his allegations of electoral fraud were completed. At least four people have been killed in fighting between Savimbi's UNITA party and police since Sunday. The ammunition dump blew up a few hours before South Africa was due to send a plane to fly Savimbi from his highland stronghold of Huambo for talks in Luanda with dos Santos.

Elsewhere . . .

LIMA, Peru _ Peru's Supreme Council of Military Justice, the military equivalent of the Supreme Court, upheld Shining Path rebel chief Abimael Guzman's life prison sentence on treason charges, a communique said Wednesday.

ROME _ Pope John Paul II returned to Rome late Wednesday after a six-day visit to the Dominican Republic.

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