LOME - Heads of state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) began an extraordinary summit meeting in Togo devoted to security in their volatile region.
ACCRA - Ghana has granted refugee status to 400 stranded Sierra Leoneans who said they had won the right to enter the United States but had been denied visas by the U.S. embassy in Accra.
LOME - Foreign ministers preparing for a West African summit agreed to launch next year a crisis prevention and peacekeeping mechanism for one of the most unstable regions.
WASHINGTON - U.S. President Bill Clinton talked tough on Iraq and held out hope for improved relations with Iran at a news conference that touched on everything from race relations to his new dog.
JERUSALEM - Benjamin Netanyahu convened his tempest-tossed cabinet to hash out the message the Israeli leader will give U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright on ceding West Bank land.
TOKYO - Japan was in a state of video game shock after a television cartoon based on Nintendo's popular "Pocket Monsters" characters triggered convulsions in hundreds of children .
PHNOM PENH - Cambodian leader Hun Sen said the country's next election should be held on schedule in May and not postponed despite a call from one of his ministers to delay it.
BOGOTA - Colombia's Senate approved a penal reform bill that promises early release for many of the criminals locked up in the country's overcrowded and notoriously violent prisons.
KOROLYOV, Russia - The crew of the Mir space station launched a German-built flying camera that will be used to make remote maintenance checks on the hull of a new international orbital station in the next century.
SYDNEY - Thick smoke and smog blanketed Sydney and firefighters were placed on alert as high temperatures and strong winds fanned bushfires burning in four states across Australia.
AGANA, Guam - Typhoon Paka left a trail of destruction across Guam, injuring one person and damaging at least $100 million worth of property.
LONDON - Millionaire businessman Mohammed Sarwar, who became Britain's first Moslem member of parliament, has been accused of election fraud and a warrant issued for his arrest.
DENVER - Jurors in the Oklahoma City bombing trial started deliberations after lawyers for Terry Nichols launched a final fierce attack on the case against him, pouring scorn on FBI investigators and saying their evidence was flawed.
BRUSSELS - NATO foreign ministers reached broad consensus on keeping their troops in Bosnia and were urged by the United States to respond jointly to the threat of the spread of deadly weapons in the Middle East and Asia.
SARAJEVO - International peace coordinator Carlos Westendorp decided to temporarily impose a law on citizenship in Bosnia after political leaders failed to meet a deadline to adopt the legislation.
CHICAGO - People recently infected by the AIDS virus may be identified by specific symptoms such as fever, joint pain and night sweats weeks before the most commonly used blood test confirms the diagnosis.
HARGEISA - The leader of the self-declared republic of Somaliland has resigned because of ill-health.
KUALA LUMPUR - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said that the Security Council will have to decide on a further course of action following Iraq's refusal to allow full weapons inspections.
KUWAIT - Six Gulf Arab states began ministerial talks ahead of their annual summit which would discuss regional security, ties with Iran and 1991 Gulf War enemy Iraq, and long-sought economic integration.
NICOSIA - Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash rescheduled a meeting with the United Nations envoy to the divided island amid a row over Cyprus's EU membership negotiations.
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates - The United Arab Emirates (UAE) began formal investigation into a Tajik airliner crash in the Sharjah desert which killed 85 people.
ANKARA - Turkish troops have ended a two-week cross-border military offensive into Iraq pursuing rebel Kurds.