March 1997 News and Events

Updated July 10, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

1997 News Month-By-Month


  • Albanian Cabinet Quits After Protests (March 1): President Sali Berisha announces resignation of Prime Minister Aleksander Meksi's government after talks do not end rioting over failed pyramid investment schemes.
  • Clinton Welcomes Yasir Arafat (March 3): With Palestinian leader at his side, President mildly rebukes Israeli government for decision to allow construction of thousands of homes for Jews in East Jerusalem, fearing damage to region's peace effort.
  • Swiss Plan Fund to Aid Holocaust Victims (March 5): Propose creation of $4.7 billion principal account, the interest from it would benefit survivors of Nazi oppression and other calamities.
  • Yeltsin Pledges to Speed Up Reforms (March 6): Russian President reassures nation of leadership after months of illness and seclusion. Promises to clean up government. (March 7): Yeltsin appoints as First Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly B. Chubais, 41, effective but unpopular aide. Chubais will control economy.
  • U.S. Vetoes U.N. Censure of Israel (March 7): Blocks Security Council resolution to criticize Israeli government for plan to build new Jewish settlement in Arab East Jerusalem. All 14 other nations back measure, calling proposal a threat to Mideast peace.
  • Nigerian Nobel Laureate Faces Treason Charge (March 12): Government accuses playwright Wole Soyinka and 11 other dissidents in bombings at army installations.
  • Jordanian Kills Seven Israeli Schoolgirls (March 13): Soldier wounds six others in group visiting shared area in Jordan Valley. He is seized after gun jammed.
  • State of Emergency in Albania (March 13): Government moves to exert control over anarchy in Europe's poorest country following collapse of pyramid investment schemes. Angry mobs loot military warehouses in southern city and engage in wide-scale looting of banks and shops. Many killed.
  • Major City in Zaire Falls to Rebels (March 15): Kisangani, last government-held city in eastern Zaire, taken after night of fighting. Capture poses threat to 31-year rule of President Mobutu.
  • Israel Begins East Jerusalem Housing Project (March 18): Soldiers guard site as bulldozers scrape ground for new Jewish neighborhood, center of crisis in Prime Minister Netanyahu's dealing with Palestinians.
  • Suicide Bomber Kills Four in Tel Aviv (March 21): Blast rips through crowded café, wounding dozens. Act is blow to Israeli–Palestinian peace.
  • Clinton and Yeltsin End Two-Day Summit Talks (March 21): At Helsinki summit, U.S. and Russian Presidents agree to differ on NATO expansion. Determine formally that Russia will negotiate partnership with Western alliance before members are added.
  • Fighting Rages 7th Day on West Bank (March 26): Palestinian youths battle Israeli soldiers as conflict spreads. Protesters burn U.S. and Israeli flags.
  • European Union Bars Turkey as Member (March 26): German Foreign Minister says nation does not qualify for place because of record on human rights.
  • Chinese Question Gore on Campaign Gifts (March 26): Vice President, during Beijing visit, assures Chinese that Washington inquiry on possible influence in 1996 election will not affect economic and diplomatic relationship during the investigation.
  • Millions Strike in Russian Protest (March 27): Workers demonstrate against government over privations endured since economic reforms were introduced.
  • Arafat's Police Control Arab Rioters (March 30): Keep tight grip on Palestinians on West Bank to prevent violence on annual day of protest.
  • Grenades Kill Many at Cambodian Rally (March 30): Scores injured in attack on hundreds attending opposition rally. New democracy regime shaken.


  • C.I.A. Official Pleads Guilty to Spying (March 3): Harold J. Nicholson, 46, in plea agreement, admits he had sold secrets to Russia when deputy station chief in Malaysia. Recently had trained C.I.A. recruits.
  • Balanced-Budget Amendment Defeated (March 4): By single vote, Senate dooms requirement for eighth time in 15 years. Backers blame political pressure.
  • Clinton Defends 1996 Fund-Raising Actions (March 7): President says he might have asked for contributions.
  • Senate Votes Broad Financing Inquiry (March 11): In policy change, unanimously approves wide investigation of White House and Congressional fund-raising.
  • Clinton Injured in Accidental Fall (March 14): Suffers torn tendon in right kneecap and undergoes surgery. Summit meeting with Russian President delayed.
  • Clinton Names Acting C.I.A. Chief to Head Agency (March 19): Nominates George J. Tenet, 44, as Director of Central Intelligence to end turmoil in Senate hearings over confirmation of original nominee, Anthony Lake.
  • House Votes Ban on Type of Abortion (March 20): For fourth time, moves to outlaw procedure that opponents call partial-birth abortion. Vote is 295–136, enough to override expected veto by President.
  • Federal Reserve Raises Interest Rate (March 25): Increase of quarter of a point to 5.5 percent is first in more than two years. Raise is warning of possible inflationary pressure on the economy.
  • Clinton Forms Panel for Health Care Study (March 26): Appoints 34-member panel to draft bill of rights for consumers and study need for federal regulation of private health insurance plans.
  • U.S. Expels Belarus Diplomat (March 26): Retaliates for “unwarranted and unjustified” ousting of American diplomat monitoring an anti-government march.


  • Earthquake Toll Rises in Mideast (March 1): Deaths in Iran and Pakistan rise to more than 550. Villagers and relief workers fear total in thousands.
  • Tornadoes Wreak Havoc in Three States (March 2): At least 35 killed in Arkansas, Ohio, and Kentucky. Deadly storms spread wide devastation.
  • New Leader for Mother Teresa's Order (March 13): Sister Nirmala, Hindu convert to Roman Catholicism, elected to head Missionaries of Charity.
  • Suspect Charged with Cosby Killing (March 13): Mikhail Markhasev, 18, Russian immigrant, accused of slaying Ennis Cosby, son of Bill Cosby, TV star, on West Coast highway in apparent robbery attempt.
  • Tobacco Company Admits Addiction Peril (March 20): Liggett Group Inc. concedes that smoking can cause cancer, is addictive, and that the company targeted advertising to minors. Agrees to settle lawsuits brought by 22 states charging that industry hid health dangers.
  • Cellular Phone Privacy Breached (March 20): Team of computer security experts crack key part of electronic code devised to protect calls made with new digital generation of cellular telephones.
  • Cult Members Commit Mass Suicide (March 27): Thirty-nine men and women found dead at estate at Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. Victims belonged to obscure computer-related group. Videotapes tell of intention.
  • Court Orders Simpson to Give up Belongings (March 27): Judge in civil case calls for surrender of golf clubs and trophies to help pay multi-million-dollar judgment that jury awarded family of slain Ronald L. Goldman.

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