THE NEWS IN BRIEF

By , David Mutch, and Peter E. Nordahl

The World

Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin said Moscow would go ahead with the sale of nuclear reactors to Iran. The announcement came while US Defense Secretary Perry was in Moscow to try to convince the government to abandon the $1 billion deal, which the US says will advance Iran's nuclear-arms program. Russian Defense Minister Grachev accused the US of not wanting his country to earn money. The US had given Moscow secret intelligence on Iran's weapons plans, the New York Times reported.

One of the victims of the bomb blast in Gaza City that destroyed a Hamas explosives factory was Ismail Hafez Kahil, a Hamas terrorist who was near the top of Israel's most-wanted list. PLO Chairman Arafat ordered an arrest sweep of the militant Hamas group after the blast.

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Experts are investigating whether an explosion occurred on the Romanian airlines Airbus before it crashed near Bucharest late last week, killing 60 people. The director of the Bucharest morgue said he suspected an explosion, and the French Embassy in Romania received a call claiming responsibility for the crash. After a bomb threat yesterday, a Romanian airlines flight to Paris made an unscheduled landing.

US Ambassador to Bosnia Victor Jackovich and several of his staff will leave their posts April 19. While Jackovich said it would be part of a regular rotation, observers said the departure signals less support for the Muslim-led Bosnian government on the part of the Clinton administration. Widespread fighting continued in Bosnia as Serbs there admitted they were losing ground.

Czech President Havel said former Communist nations in Central Europe are gaining in their drive for NATO membership. He said membership in the EU would take longer, however, because of more requirements. Russian Defense Minister Grachev complained that NATO was moving too quickly on membership.

While visiting Bonn, Turkish Foreign Minister Inonu said Ankara will withdraw its troops quickly from the assault on rebel Kurds in northern Iraq. Western nations have criticized the assault, and Inonu is on tour to counter the growing criticism. He said the mission is short-term, to take out rebel-arms depots to prevent attacks on Turkey. (Story, Page 1.)

The Japanese sect suspected in the Tokyo subway gassing ordered molecular-design software from two US companies just before the attack, the Wall Street Journal reported. The software can be used to make chemicals more dangerous. Japanese police said they found uranium-enrichment documents in the car of one sect member.

A rebel group in Uganda threatened full-scale civil war if its demand for restoration of the Buganda tribal kingdom continues to be rejected. The threat came after unidentified gunmen abducted the nation's health minister. Uganda's Constituent Assembly, now drawing up a new constitution, last week rejected the Buganda proposal.

British Prime Minister Major and US Secretary of State Christopher played down differences over Northern Ireland as ''ancient history.'' The two were meeting in Washington. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Mubarak's five-day visit to Washington aims to heal rifts between the US and its most-important Arab ally. These include Egypt's position on the spread of nuclear weapons and its friendship with Libya.

World trade in goods grew at the fastest pace since 1976 and will continue this year, the World Trade Organization said.

Two of Pakistan's most notorious drug lords were extradited to the US to face prosecution on more than 100 counts of heroin and hashish smuggling.

The US

The Clinton administration, concerned about the continued weakness of the dollar, announced it had intervened in currency markets in an attempt to bolster the US currency. It did not provide details about the dollar-buying, which marked the first time the US has intervened since early March. The dollar fell to another post-World War II low yesterday.

House Speaker Gingrich predicted that the House would pass tax-cut legislation by the end of the week, despite some Republican dissension. GOP lawmakers would then turn back to the task of balancing the budget, he said. Gingrich and Senator Dole asked Jack Kemp to lead a GOP study of the political and economic feasibility of a flat tax and other major tax-reform proposals. Plans for a commission on economic growth and tax reform were expected to be announced as early as yesterday. (Story, Page 1.)

Americans' personal income rose 0.5 percent in February, the smallest gain in three months. Spending increased more slowly than it has in nearly a year, the Commerce Department reported. US manufacturing and retailing companies rang up sharply higher profits in the fourth quarter last year, the department said.

Major-league baseball players began arriving at training camps yesterday after 234 days, more than $800 million in losses, no World Series, and not even a settlement. On Sunday, owners accepted the union's offer to play without a work agreement. The season, which had been scheduled to start with replacement players last Sunday, will begin April 26. (Story, Page 3.)

The Supreme Court agreed to decide whether the government must pay two chemical companies the $31 million settlement they paid to Vietnam veterans who blamed health problems on the defoliant Agent Orange. The companies will argue that the government should have to pay because it required them to manufacture Agent Orange. The court rejected challenges stemming from a decision by federal regulators to let regional Bell companies offer more than basic telephone service.

The House was expected to pass a bill yesterday that would create a financial oversight board for the District of Columbia. The proposal to oversee the city's finances was unanimously approved by a House committee last week. The proposal came after Mayor Barry revealed that Washington was burdened with an estimated $722 million deficit.

Republicans in Congress will try to overturn Clinton's ''don't ask, don't tell'' policy for gays in the military. Gingrich said the military's position that homosexuals don't belong in the armed forces is the correct one.

Chicagoans go to the polls today to elect or reelect their city's mayor. On the eve of the election, Mayor Daley held a firm lead in the polls, while Roland Burris, his chief opponent, struggled to close a 38-point gap.

As Philadelphia's transit strike continues, many of the estimated 280,000 people with no alternative to public transportation expressed their frustration with the transit workers, whose wages average $16.10 an hour. The strike by 5,200 members of the Transport Workers Union has knocked out all bus, trolley, subway, and elevated-train service inside the city limits and threatens to extend to the suburbs.

Etcetera

Gen. George Custer's personal battle flag and other artifacts are to be sold at auction in San Francisco today. But the featured item may be a 190-page manuscript written by William Taylor, a lowly trooper who survived the Battle of the Little Big Horn.

The 1995 America's Cup race will end today for either Dennis Conner or America's previously all-women's sailing team. Conner sailed Stars & Stripes to a lopsided victory over America's Mighty Mary Sunday to force a sailoff for the right to meet Young America.

No. 1-ranked Connecticut defeated Tennessee 70-64 Sunday to win the NCAA women's basketball crown and finish the season undefeated, at 35-0. Meanwhile last night in the men's finals, Arkansas, which began the season in first place, was to face UCLA, now No. 1.

Indonesia, home to the world's largest Muslim population, began a major airlift yesterday of 195,000 pilgrims to Saudi Arabia for the annual Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. Some 452 flights from five cities will be needed, the government said.

Beijing has begun a project to save more than 100 cultural sites from demolition the face of China's capital.

Administration's 1995 List of Trade Offenders

Countries considered to engage in unfair trading practices

Argentina Australia

Brazil

Bulgaria Canada

Chile

China Colombia Costa Rica Dominican

Republic

Egypt

El Salvador Ghana Guatemala Honduras Hungary

India Indonesia Israel

Japan

Kenya

Malaysia Mexico

New Zealand Nicaragua Nigeria Norway Pakistan

Peru Philippines Poland

Russia Singapore South Africa South Korea Switzerland Taiwan Thailand Turkey Venezuela Zimbabwe

Trading Groups:

Arab League, European Union, Gulf Cooperation Council, newly independent states of the former Soviet Union

Associated Press

''I don't think I'm seeing a bogeyman there. I think it's a real threat.''

Defense Secretary Perry concerning Russia's plan to sell nuclear reactors to Iran

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