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Rebels stall Russian advance in Grozny

Rebel forces relying on rooftop snipers and scouts at important intersections kept frustrated Russian troops out of Minutka Square in Chechnya's shattered capital, Grozny, on Sunday.

Russian artillery and planes shelled and bombed rebel positions in Grozny's center Sunday. Troops also battled militants in the foothills and mountains to the south, the military command said.

ALBRIGHT VISITING MOSCOW: Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said Sunday that Russia's acting president is "riding a tiger" by pushing a military offensive against rebels in Chechnya.

Albright told reporters as she flew to Moscow that Russia faces more isolation as the war drags on. She said she was "hoping to have a meaty session" with acting President Vladmir Putin when they meet this week.

IMF URGED TO WITHDRAW: U.S. financier George Soros said Sunday that the International Monetary Fund should pull out of Russia in view of the political climate there.

Foreign institutions and investors "have lost the ability to influence the direction of events" in Russia, said Soros, chairman of the influential Soros Fund Management, during a news conference at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Soros pointed to the conflict in Chechnya as a worrying sign.

Plane for Pinochet

lands in England

LONDON _ A Chilean air force place sent to fetch Gen. Augusto Pinochet has landed at an air force base northwest of London, the Defense Ministry said Sunday.

The Boeing 707 arrived Saturday from Bermuda, where it had waited for two weeks while legal wrangling continued over the fate of the 84-year-old former dictator whom Spain wants extradited to face charges of human rights abuses during his 1973-1990 rule.

A High Court judge is due to rule today on a Belgian challenge to a report by four British doctors that Pinochet is unfit to stand trial.

Elsewhere . . .

CHERNOBYL REACTOR: The only working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant has been shut down for five days of unplanned repairs to fix a faulty safety valve, officials said Sunday. The reactor was taken off line Saturday morning and is expected to resume operation Thursday, the State Nuclear Regulation Administration said.

PYONGYANG TO TALK: Accelerating an improvement in relations, North Korea will send a senior official to Washington in March for high-level talks with the Clinton administration, the State Department said Sunday.