News In Brief

THE WORLD

Turkey stepped up its military offensive against Kurdish rebels, killing a total of 58. The military has put the rebel death toll at 295. Turkey's new foreign minister embarked on a public-relations trip to Europe and the US to ease fears that Turkey will occupy northern Iraq for an extended period of time and to reassure allies that it is safeguarding civilians. Meanwhile, about 18,000 Kurds demonstrated in Duesseldorf, Germany, calling for Turkey to pull its troops out of northern Iraq and for Bonn to halt all support to Ankara.

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Algerian troops have killed 2,800 guerrillas and have nearly eliminated the feared Armed Islamic Group, Algerian newspapers reported. In his first official comment on the offensive, Algeria's ambassador to the UN said the military was having ''spectacular successes.''

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Up to eight people were feared dead after explosions ripped through an apartment building in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian police said. Authorities were checking reports that Muslim militants had been preparing a bomb. Police said the militants belonged to the Islamic Hamas group opposed to the PLO's peace deal with Israel.

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As fighting intensified on several Bosnian battlefronts yesterday, Bosnia's prime minister accused foreign governments of putting too little pressure on Serb rebels to accept a peace plan. Bosnian radio reported fierce fighting in the northwestern enclave of Bihac. Croatia's foreign minister, meanwhile, praised the UN's decision to change the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in his country, scaling down the UN presence in Croatia and deploying peacekeepers along the country's borders.

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Russia's military said it expects fighting to ease in Chechnya after the fall of the last major separatist stronghold. It reiterated, however, that the conflict can end only if the rebels drop plans to wage a partisan war. The government said it now controls 80 percent of Chechnya. A commission met in Moscow over the weekend to discuss plans to rebuild the shattered region.

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Despite his country's reduced role, US President Clinton vowed to continue to help Haiti in its national recovery and preparation for June 4 legislative elections. Clinton visited Haiti to turn over peacekeeping duties to the UN.

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British Prime Minister Major flew to Washington yesterday to try to polish his tarnished relationship with Clinton. Earlier this month, the administration defied British demands by allowing a fund-raising trip by Gerry Adams, head of the political wing of the IRA. Major will first meet with the Republican leadership in Congress and then with Clinton tomorrow.

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The crash of a Romanian Airbus jet Friday has raised questions about the airline's autopilot systems and whether standard pilot training is adequate for its high-tech planes. All 60 people aboard were killed. Experts investigating the crash said Airbus's modern models require extensive training not always available in developing nations.

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International relief workers arrived by horseback in a remote Afghan village, where Kabul radio said 354 people were killed in a landslide last week. The massive landslide, caused by heavy rains, reportedly swept over the village in the Pamir mountain range March 27.

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Tanzania, already bursting with refugees, said it can't handle tens of thousands of Rwandans stranded near its frontier. The Rwandans escaped from last year's ethnic bloodbath in their own country and are now fleeing from nearby Burundi, where violence has increased. Tanzanian Prime Minister Msuya said the frontier would remain closed.

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The EU and Canada were to hold talks late yesterday in a bid to move toward a solution in their fisheries dispute.

THE US

The GOP aims to pass its something-for-everyone, $189 billion tax-cut plan in the House by the end of the week to cap its first 100 days in power. Democrats are fighting to stall the massive bill. Minority leader Gephardt said over the weekend the package favors the rich. House Speaker Gingrich shot back that it's the people's money, not the government's. Gingrich said the federal budget must be balanced by 2002. He also said the free market will dominate health care. Senator Moynihan said the Contract With America aims to undermine the Constitution.

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Republican governors drafted a plan to turn control of Medicaid over to the states. Under th plan, some $90 billion would be sent to the states in lump-sum payments, and the current 10 percent annual growth would be held to between 4 and 6 percent.

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Senators Kerry and Simpson outlined a plan to let Americans voluntarily put some of their Social Security savings into private retirement accounts. They would agree to draw less from Social Security when they retire. The plan would be part of a package of bills aimed at heading off Social Security insolvency projected in coming years.

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The public gave the new Republican Congress high marks in a new poll by Time Magazine and CNN. Some 58 percent rated the Congress positively; 33 percent said it had done a poor or very poor job. Of those polled, 47 percent disapproved of the way Gingrich is performing his job, while 40 percent approved.

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Baseball owners were expected to agree to end the strike, and players and owners pushed opening day to April 26. Management lawyers told teams to release their replacement players.

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President Clinton and Senator Dole locked horns over an emergency defense bill. Clinton said the bill, aimed at increasing US military readiness, is being held hostage in the Senate. Dole said the Democratic Party has hampered the bill with a ''laundry list of amendments.'' Both chambers of Congress have passed versions of the bill, but a conference committee is trying to resolve differences.

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Workers at a Chrysler plant in Kokomo, Ind., went back to work after health and safety issues there were resolved. About 5,500 workers at a General Motors assembly plant in Pontiac, Mich., walked off the job Friday over job-security and manpower-shortages. The GM workers are expected to vote on a possible agreement today.

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The Pentagon began a detailed search to find out if US military officials had anything to do with killings of two Americans in Guatemala. The probe follows charges by Congressman Torricelli that a Guatemalan colonel on the CIA payroll had arranged the killings. Torricelli said an anonymous letter from inside the National Security Agency claimed that NSA and the Army shredded documents on the case.

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Martin Luther King's family and the National Park Service ended a dispute over a visitors center the service intends to build near the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change, in Atlanta. The King family wanted to build a museum on the same site. The resolution opens the way for the King Center to receive a federal grant through the park service.

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More than 800 California police and FBI agents arrested 60 gang members in a sweep to dismantle a nortorious Los Angeles street gang, the Los Angeles Times reported. Law enforcement agents seized dozens of guns and large amounts of cocaine in the operation, described as the largest of its kind in southern California.

ETCETERA

One must be able to tell one's partners: You can't do that. Pull out of northern Iraq. Observe human rights and a sense of proportion, and protect the civilian population.''

-- German Foreign Minister Kinkel, concerning Turkey's push into northern Iraq

The NCAA championships neared the end. In women's basketball, undefeated Connecticut was to face Tennessee yesterday. In men's basketball, UCLA faces Arkansas today. Meanwhile, Boston University celebrated its 6-2 victory over Maine Friday in the hockey tournament.

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After more than a century of monitoring telegraph distress calls, the US Coast Guard turned off its Morse code equipment. The familiar clicks and clacks finally yielded to modern technology, which is faster and more secure.

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New England's passenger train to Montreal chugged into history over the weekend. The demise of the Montrealer was caused by budget cuts announced in December by Amtrak, the US-subsidized rail service. All along the route, photographers and rail buffs recorded the event.

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Indian wildlife inspectors seized 2,000 rare birds from illegal traffickers and ordered them returned to their native habitats.

Participating Countries In UN Mission to Haiti

United States 2,400 engineering, aviation, and logistics personnel; special forces; light cavalry

Pakistan 850 troops

Bangladesh 850 troops

Canada 475 engineering, aviation, and logistics personnel

Nepal 410 troops

Caribbean Community 300 troops

Netherlands 142 troops

Honduras 120 troops

Guatemala 120 military police

India 120 troops

Surinam 36 troops

Argentina 27 personnel for Fokker aircraft

Civilian police: Algeria, Argentina, Austria, Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Canada, Djibouti, Dominica, France, Grenada, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Mali, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, Senegal, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Suriname, and Togo

Reuters

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