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MIDDLE EAST

The British company Royal Ordnance said yesterday it had cleared all Kuwaiti oil fields of Iraqi mines and ammunition left from the Gulf war.... Nabil Shaath, a top Palestine Liberation Organization official, said yesterday that continuing the Arab-Israeli peace talks has had positive results. UNITED STATES

Retail sales rose 1.3 percent in February for the second consecutive monthly increase, the government said yesterday. Also, January sales were revised upward from an estimated 0.6 percent to a 2.1 percent advance, showing higher auto, furniture, and department store sales.... The Senate rejected a modified version of President Bush's tax plan late Wednesday, after 12 hours of opening debate on the tax bill.... A Cuban journalist who investigated Colombian drug trafficking in New York City was killed ther e late Wednesday by gunmen who then escaped. Manuel Unanue Dedios had been the editor in chief of the Spanish-language daily El Diario-La Prensa from 1981 to 1988.... The US is investigating reports that Israel sold a Patriot missile or its technology to China, the Washington Times reported yesterday. ENVIRONMENT AND SCIENCE

The environmental group Greenpeace yesterday urged the European Community to act immediately to stop thousands of tons of lethal waste being dumped in the third world. A shipment of 950 tons of German chemical waste, turned back by the Egyptian government this week, highlighted the cynical nature of such exports, it said.... Western Australia issued an urgent health warning yesterday after lethal levels of cyanide were found in apricot kernels, eaten by some for health reasons.

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