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MIDDLE EASTThe UN's World Food Program will extend until at least the end of the year its relief operations to feed more than 1.5 million people inside Iraq. Relief was due to end in September.... The Soviet Union, desperate for cash, has had its most advanced fighter planes and weapons systems up for sale at the Dubai International Air Show, running all this week, and arms merchants and buyers have turned out in force. A US Defense Department source told Reuters that Soviet high-tech military items are on sale tha t in some cases are better than US products. Both the Pentagon's "star wars" office and NASA earlier have sent officials on shopping tours to the Soviet Union. UNITED STATES The federal government announced Wednesday the most sweeping changes in food labels in 50 years to help consumers make sense of the array of confusing and sometimes deceptive health claims. Health and Human Services Secretary Louis Sullivan said at a news conference that 39,000 lives could be saved in the next 20 years simply by requiring food labels to provide accurate information.... President Bush Wednesday issued his harshest criticism yet of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, reluctantly concedi ng that he would vote for Duke's liberal Democratic opponent for governor if he lived in Louisiana. "What's the choice, man?" Bush said.... Hoping to close an estimated $125 million budget deficit, Gov. John McKernan Wednesday proposed a reorganization of Maine's government that could cut up to 2,600 employees.... Winnie Mandela gave Mayor David Dinkins a big bear hug at City Hall in New York Wednesday and said she and her fellow black South Africans looked forward to the imminent visit of "our son." He wil l be in South Africa for eight days, beginning Sunday.

EUROPE NATO, guardian of the West for more than 40 years, officially stood down from its war footing at a summit that began in Rome yesterday, offering former foes a helping hand to ensure security in Europe. The US gave its first clear indication that it thinks former enemies in Eastern Europe should be allowed to join the Western alliance in the long term, but not now.... Bush and British Prime Minister John Major had extensive talks in Rome on the problem of Soviet debt yesterday, which one senior British of ficial said was extremely serious. In Moscow, an official of the Bank for Foreign Economic Affairs said the Soviet Union plans to meet its foreign debt obligations despite a shortage of hard currency.... Russian President Boris Yeltsin issued a terse decree Wednesday ending the Communist Party's activity in his republic and disbanding its structures.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Vietnam and China concluded a landmark summit by signing agreements yesterday on trade and border cooperation to begin a better era in their previously stormy relations.

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