News In Brief

THE WORLD

Israel and Syria agreed to reopen peace negotiations, ending a three-month impasse. The agreement came at the conclusion of Secretary of State Christopher's trip to the Mideast. Talks will resume in Washington.

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A Turkish Army general met with representatives of a progressive Islamic group to try to bring calm to a slum area outside Istanbul gripped by three days of violence that killed at least 15 people. The violence began Sunday, when radical Islamic gunmen killed three people and wounded 25 in the area, which is populated by members of the Alawite sect of Islam that supports Turkey's secular system.

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Iran could have nuclear weapons within five years because of a sophisticated smuggling network that has allowed it to bypass the Western arms embargo, the New York Times reported. Nuclear technology and weapons parts are entering Iran through smuggling points in Europe, Russia, and Central Asia, the paper said. Iranian officials denied they are trying to build a nuclear arsenal, and Iran's foreign minister called for the disclosure of all nuclear-weapons programs in the Mideast.

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Italian Prime Minister Dini called for a confidence vote in Parliament to try to save Italy's emergency budget. It is a high-stakes gamble that could bring down the government and force Dini to resign if he loses. Victory would sweep aside amendments to a mini-budget, drawn up to keep Italy's $82 billion deficit within target. Dini was confirmed as prime minister in January after the fall of the Berlusconi government last December.

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Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams opened the political group's first lobbying office in the US, and British politicians are up in arms. London still sees the IRA as a potentially deadly terrorist organization, but Prime Minister Major said he's not snubbing President Clinton over the White House's uncritical welcome of Adams.

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A Mexican peace commission headed to southern Chiapas state to persuade rebels to restart peace talks. The Mexican government's announcement that the Army is lifting roadblocks and preparing to move to isolated villages appeared partially to answer rebel demands that the Army withdraw from all territory it seized from the rebels.

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The European Union said it expects Canada to release a detained Spanish trawler today. But Canada said it will refuse to negotiate with the EU. Meanwhile, Spanish vessels continued to fish in an area of the Atlantic called the Grand Banks.

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A violent chapter in Bolivia's history came to a close yesterday when former dictator Luis Garcia Meza was transferred from a prison in Brazil to one in Bolivia, where he was to begin serving a 30-year term. Garcia Meza headed the 1980 military coup that overthrew a democratically elected government in Bolivia.

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English soccer was hit by its biggest match-fixing scandal in 30 years. Three Premier League stars and two others were taken into custody Tuesday following a four-month investigation into allegations of players taking bribes from an Asian gambling syndicate. No formal charges have been filed.

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South African President Mandela unveiled his first budget, proposing to cut the deficit while increasing spending on programs to help poor blacks. In Britain, unemployment dipped to a three-year low in February. France's budget deficit was 299.1 billion francs ($59.7 billion), slightly better than earlier projections, and down from 16.5 billion francs in 1993.

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Leaders of 10 Islamic nations were expected to sign agreements to strengthen their economies and move toward a regional free-trade zone. The measures include reducing tariffs and establishing joint cultural and science institutes.

THE US

Democrats offered only a single amendment before the House Ways and Means Committee approved the biggest tax-cut legislation in more than a decade. The provision would lower taxes by $189 billion over five years. The Democratic amendment, which would have ended the tax breaks after five years, was defeated along party lines.

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Republicans scrambled to round up votes for a $17 billion spending-cut bill. Speaker Gingrich said he would allow a vote on an amendment barring lawmakers from using savings under the bill to finance tax cuts.

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Wholesale prices climbed 0.3 percent in February, pushed upward by rising costs for food, drugs, and home heating oil, while the nation's factories operated at their fastest clip in more than 15 years. The bigger-than-expected rise in the Producer Price Index and the 0.5 percent jump in industrial production called into question Wall Street's belief that the economy was slowing to a more-moderate pace that would keep inflation under control. Business inventories rose 0.9 percent in January.

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Housing Secretary Cisneros will remain in his job with President Clinton's support. The Justice Department earlier requested that an independent counsel be named to determine whether Cisneros should face criminal charges for statements he made to the FBI about payments to his former mistress.

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Former Interior Secretary Watt pleaded innocent to charges that he covered up some of his work as a consultant seeking federal aid from the Housing Department during the Reagan era. A September trial date was set.

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Federal officials refused to grant Atlantic salmon broad protection as an endangered species, ruling that the fish have already disappeared from many New England rivers. Environmentalists argued that dams and pollution have driven the fish to near-extinction.

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Parents are coming up with millions of dollars in past-due child-support payments when threatened with the loss of their professional and driver's licenses, the Department of Health and Human Services reported. HHS traced the experiences of 19 states that revoke the licenses of parents who do not fulfill their court-ordered child-support obligations. It estimated that child-support collections would grow by $2.5 billion over 10 years if similar programs were in place nationwide.

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Clinton's failed campaign for health-care reform cost taxpayers more than $9.6 million, but General Accounting Office auditors said they can't set a final price tag as long as the White House withholds requested records. The administration hasn't detailed costs incurred while the task force drafted health-reform legislation, personnel time spent on the project, or costs associated with subsequent litigation.

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Yale University will return a $20 million gift to avoid compromising the school's autonomy. Texas philanthropist Lee Bass donated the money to establish a new history curriculum and wanted to handpick the professors. Yale refused. Harvard University, meanwhile, will receive one of the biggest donations in the history of American higher education. Retired investment banker John Loeb plans to give Harvard $70.5 million, in addition to an earlier $30 million donation.

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The National Labor Relations Board told baseball owners that it would issue an unfair labor-practice complaint against them, raising the possibility that the players' strike could become a lockout.

ETCETERA

It's turned out to be one of the most satisfying trips I've made to the Middle East.''

--Secretary of State Christopher

Montana musher Doug Swingley yelled ''yahoo'' as he pulled into Nome to win the Iditarod dog-sled race Tuesday. He covered the 1,100-mile race in just over nine days, setting a record. He's the first non-Alaskan winner in 23 years. Martin Buser of Alaska was second.

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Mario Cuomo, former New York governor, said he probably will host a Saturday-morning radio talk show. The deal should be set in a week. It will be highbrow, ''thought talk radio,'' he said. Meanwhile, Ross Perot will end his Sunday-night radio show in June to pursue ''other interests.''

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NASA astronaut Norman Thagard can expect clutter and unusual odors when he arrives at Russia's Mir space station today as its first American guest. The shower doesn't work - it's used as a sauna. Mir is hot and noisy, and the food is so-so, says a German astronaut who was aboard last fall.

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Archaeologists have found a huge fossilized dinosaur egg in Henan province in China. Two culture officials were walking by farmers shoveling soil when the egg rolled out in front of them.

Best-Selling Hardcover Nonfiction

1. ''Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,'' John Gray (HarperCollins)

2. ''I Want to Tell You,'' O. J. Simpson (Little, Brown)

3. ''The Hot Zone,'' Richard Preston (Random House)

4. ''Sisters,'' Carol Saline (Running Press)

5. ''Raging Heart,'' Sheila Weller (Pocket Books)

6. ''The Beardstown Ladies' Common-Sense Investment Guide,'' Leslie Whitaker (Hyperion)

7. ''In the Kitchen With Rosie,'' Rosie Daley (Knopf)

8. ''Couplehood,'' Paul Reiser (Bantam)

9. ''The Warren Buffett Way,'' Robert Hagstrom Jr. (Wiley)

10. ''The Discipline of Market Leaders,'' Michael Treacy (Addison-Wesley)

--Publishers Weekly

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