People: The PLO's man in Paris goes native

TO BE, or not to be . . . a Frenchman or a Palestinian diplomat? The Palestine Liberation Organisation lost one of its most sophisticated representatives when Ibrahim Souss, its man in Paris, opted to become a French citizen. Souss, an author, poet, pianist, bon vivant, and brother-in-law of Yasser Arafat, has lived in France since 1968 and became the PLO envoy in 1978.

Whether Souss could have been both French and a Palestinian diplomat seems open to debate. The Foreign Ministry said Souss had indicated that he planned to quit his PLO post and focus on university education and research, but still maintained it was not illegal for him to continue representing the PLO. The Justice Ministry, however, apparently thought otherwise.

FEELING her Armenian heritage for the first time, Cher turned up in Yerevan aboard a chartered cargo jet carrying privately donated humanitarian aid and 25 reporters. The actress and singer, born Cherilyn Sarkisian, checked into a hotel and soon got a taste of life outside the fast lane. 'I hate . . . that I haven't had any water since I've been in the hotel, and no electricity and no heat,' she said. She also hated that Armenians suffer the same conditions every day.

THE MASTER of the spy novel, John Le Carre, says fewer people may read his books now that the Cold War is over, but that's all right with him. 'I wouldn't wish to write that stuff any more and I was terribly tired of it,' said the author of The Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Russia House and many others. His next novel, The Night Manager, deals not with life in a Central European fast- food restaurant but the world of arms dealing and drug trafficking. The end of the Cold War was a 'kind of professional regeneration' for Le Carre, who added: 'Maybe my usefulness is over. But I'm going to have far more interesting things to write about.'

THE CHINESE seem to have succeeded in one area where others have failed: they have persuaded Madonna to tone down her act. 'The Ministry of Culture believes that sexiness is acceptable, but not nudity or indecent exposure,' says the newspaper Ta Kung Pao, which reported an invitation to the singer to perform if she accepted the conditions of the art and culture watchdog. She has.

COLOMBIANS will find it hard to buy books by their most famous author after their Nobel prizewinner Gabriel Garcia Marquez ordered his works to be removed from sale in his homeland to protest against a proliferation of cheap pirate editions.

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