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MIDDLE EAST

In a poll published yesterday by the English-language daily Arab Times in Kuwait, a majority of 100 women and of an equal number of men questioned at random favored granting women the right to vote. The poll found 57 percent of the men in favor compared with 85 percent of the women. Parliamentary elections are scheduled for October, and Kuwaiti women have launched a campaign to win voting rights since the liberation of their country from Iraqi occupation a year ago.... The United States has launched a wo rldwide drive to track down billions of dollars in hidden assets helping Saddam Hussein to stay in power. Richard Newcomb, director of the office of Foreign Assets Control at the US Treasury Department, said the funds have helped Saddam beat UN sanctions. UNITED STATES

Robert Gates, director of Central Intelligence, said that North Korea is secretly building nuclear arms despite signing a "smoke screen" agreement allowing international inspection of its nuclear installations. He told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that North Korea could possibly build nuclear weapons "in a few months." ... Orders for big-ticket factory goods rose 1.5 percent in January, recouping some of the loss from a revised 5.1 percent decline in December. The January rise was the biggest sinc e a 2.7 percent increase in October, the Commerce Department said.... Congress voted to link progress on human rights to trade relations with China. The bill, which has to be signed by President Bush, calls for "significant progress" in respect of human rights and decisive measures against proliferation of nuclear weapons. (See story, Page 1.) ASIA

After decades of ideological resistance to Western influence, India is about to submit to the satellite and cable TV invasion from overseas. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry said a first phase of legislation to regularize the cable network would go before parliament by May. The urban elite already view both the Cable News Network and BBC World Service Television on cables laid by pirate entrepreneurs with satellite dishes. EUROPE

A US military plane carrying food for Russia's poor broke a fresh cold-war barrier when it landed Tuesday at the arctic port of Arkhangelsk. Part of an international airlift to the former Soviet Union, the flight returned US forces to Arkhangelsk for the first time since Allied ships in World War II brought military aid.... An Indian officer, Lt. Gen. Satish Nambiar, India's director of military operations, will head the 14,000-member UN peacekeeping force in Yugoslavia.... Harold Arthur, a British retir ee who bought a talking parrot for company, struggled to understand its chatter, until he realized the bird was speaking Polish. Police arrested a man for handling the stolen bird, while Arthur swapped the bird for one that speaks English.

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