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RUSSIA SEEKS GREATER POWERS

Russian President Boris Yeltsin, in remarks likely to divide the Commonwealth of Independent States, yesterday said international organizations such as the United Nations should grant Russia special powers over the territory of the former Soviet Union to stop ethnic conflicts.

Yeltsin did not specify what kind of powers he wanted. But his clear reference to the "region of the former Soviet Union" suggested a role in some countries that would by no means warm to Russian intervention. Russia has much to lose from any spread of instability in the former Union. Its borders with the former republics are largely open and their economies closely linked. Most of the former Soviet armed forces are under Russian control and are located in all republics. Blast cause

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Secretary of State Warren Christopher said yesterday he would not rule out a link between the bombing of New York's World Trade Center and events in Bosnia but warned there is danger in premature speculation. Bombings wordwide

While the US deals with the unusual World Trade Center blast, several other nations are handling similar incidents.

In Cairo, a crude bomb packed with steel nails exploded Friday in a crowded Cairo coffee shop and killed four people. Sixteen were injured. Muslim extremists who have targeted tourists before claimed responsibility.

In the Philippines a bomb exploded Sunday at an airport, injuring 25 people and devastating the terminal building. A second bomb was detonated by police. No group claimed responsibility.

The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility Sunday for a bomb that exploded on a busy shopping street in north London, injuring 18 people.

And in Afghanistan two rockets hit a marketplace yesterday in Kabul, killing and injuring dozens of people and shattering a two-week lull. The Defense Ministry blamed the assault on the dissident Hezb-e-Islami faction which denied responsibility. Prisoners released

Ethiopia's transitional government Saturday released on bail 400 political prisoners, including former government ministers held for 19 months without trial. All those freed were high ranking members of a Soviet-style party that was organized by former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam. US agency positions

Bush-appointed US Food and Drug Administration chief David Kessler has accepted an offer from the Clinton administration to stay on in his post. However, Bush appointee Bernadine Healy said Friday that she was resigning as director of the National Institutes of Health at the Clinton administration's request. US savings bonds

The 6 percent guaranteed minimum rate on US government savings bonds is being lowered to 4 percent today. Outstanding bonds will retain their value until maturity. The last change in the minimum rate was Nov. 1, 1986, when it fell from 7.5 percent to 6 percent.

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