People: The adulterer's dilemma: a ball partner

AUSTRIA'S President, Thomas Klestil, may have ridden out the immediate crisis over his amorous liaison with a Foreign Ministry official, Margot Loffler - his People's Party decided, after a crisis meeting, that his affair was a private matter. But a tricky dilemma looms: who will be on his arm for the highpoint of the Viennese social season, the Opera Ball, early next month? Will he take his wife, Edith, who walked out on him after 37 years, protesting that her role as First Lady had been usurped? Or his inamorata, who doubtless includes waltzing among her diplomatic accomplishments?

For Vienna's avid ballgoers, the decision is perhaps more important than the question of who will accompany Mr Klestil on his forthcoming official visit to Egypt.

AN unwelcome spotlight has been turned on Emilie Schindler, 86, the widow of Oskar Schindler, the hero of Steven Spielberg's movie blockbuster Schindler's List. 'Until Speilberg made this film, nobody came here. For 44 years nobody even knew I was alive,' Mrs Schindler grumbles from her tiny home in the sleepy Argentine backwater of San Vicente.

The film was named the best dramatic picture at the Golden Globe Awards in Hollywood at the weekend, and Spielberg won the category for best director. But this doesn't cut much ice with Mrs Schindler, who complains that journalists have been tramping through her home, stripping her of every photo of her husband.

But she is full of praise for the smooth performance of Liam Neeson, who she said had portrayed Oskar 'just right'. But, having seen the film at a viewing in the United States with Bill Clinton, she was more equivocal about the portrayal of Emilie by Caroline Goodall. 'To be honest I couldn't see the screen. People kept moving their heads. People get a bit restless after three hours.'

THE name of a veteran of Algeria's liberation struggle against France, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, is being put about in the local press as a possible Algerian president. His name surfaced as a national congress opens today to plot the way forward for the next three years. The viability of the enterprise has been undermined by the decision of three main opposition parties to boycott it. Mr Bouteflika, a senior officer during the eight-year war against France, became foreign minister in 1963. He embodies the revolutionary glory of the National Liberation Front (FLN) and, since resigning in 1979, he has kept his distance from the corruption that riddled the FLN government in its later years.

PERSONAL friendships often transcend political differences, but the bond struck up between President Fidel Castro of Cuba, and the disgraced Brazilian ex-president and capitalist Fernando Collor de Mello seems among the more curious. Mr Collor and his wife have accepted an invitation to spend a relaxing weekend with Fidel at the Cuban resort of Varadero.

It seems that Castro took a shine to the young Brazilian when he attended Mr Collor's inauguration in 1990, and cemented the relationship during the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio. Mr Collor, although banished from power for corruption, still regularly receives gifts of Havana cigars from Castro, who was on the tarmac to greet Mr Collor's sons, Arnon Afonso and Joaquim Pedro, at Havana airport for a visit last year.

Mr Collor, who is awaiting judgment from the Brazilian Supreme Court on corruption charges, had to obtain special permission from the court to leave the country for his Cuban jaunt.

(Photograph omitted)

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