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UNITED STATES AND EUROPE

Ross Perot is now the preferred presidential alternative of more than 20 percent of the registered voters, putting him just behind Democratic front-runner Bill Clinton, according to New York Times/CBS News poll published yesterday. President Bush lead the group at 38 percent.... Russians celebrated Orthodox Easter yesterday, with churches packed and bells ringing out from the walled Kremlin for the first time since Bolshevik leaders vowed in 1918 to crush Christianity for ever.... Italian President Franc esco Cossiga announced his resignation Saturday and plunged the country into one of its worst constitutional tangles since World War II. For the first time in 47 years, Italy has no effective president, prime minister, or government.... Germany is bracing itself for serious disruption this week when public-service unions in the country's affluent west prepare for their first mass strike in 18 years. Postal workers and police will strike. Rail, public-transport, and trash-collection services could also be di srupted. MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA

Iraqi Kurds welcomed the Voice of America's first Kurdish-language news broadcast yesterday, saying it was a sign that the US would stand by them.... Trade ministers from the US, the European Community, Japan, and Canada agreed yesterday in Japan to include areas other than farm issues in global trade talks.... Former First Lady Imelda Marcos was the first of seven candidates to sign a pact yesterday pledging not to cheat in the Philippine presidential elections May 11.... Burmese elder statesman U Nu is

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in good health after being released from house arrest, his daughter said yesterday. Burma's last elected prime minister, he had been held by the military since December 1989.

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