News In Brief

THE WORLD

Government soldiers broke through Serb lines 18 miles south of Sarajevo, capturing a mountain peak and several villages. Both sides geared for heavier fighting as Bosnian Serb political and military chiefs blamed each other for recent successes by their Muslim-led foes. Iran, meanwhile, has supplied large arms shipments to the Muslim-led government with tacit US acceptance, US officials told the Washington Post. French Defense Minister Leotard said in Sarajevo that his nation is posing the question of a UN pullout after two French peacekeepers were killed in Bosnia.

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Canada and the EU ended their fishing feud, setting specific numbers on the turbot caught off Newfoundland and introducing strict new monitoring methods to prevent overfishing. Spain, whose fishing boats had been seized by Canada, gets a larger quota of turbot this year. It said the deal is relatively positive.

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Israeli forces killed three suspected Hamas militants in Hebron in the West Bank. For the first time, a Palestinian court in Gaza sentenced two Hamas members to jail, for training with unlicensed weapons. International donors pledged $1.1 billion for 1995 to Arafat's self-rule government in Gaza.

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The US and Japan failed to agree on steps to end the yen-dollar crisis at a meeting of the 18-member Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum that ended yesterday. Financial markets have shown no enthusiasm for the stimulus package that Japan unveiled Friday to curb its current-account surplus and defend its economic recovery.

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Russian forces continued heavy shelling of Bamut, the last bastion of Chechen rebels in the country's lowland, as town elders said they would resist to the end. Critics of the campaign at home and abroad raised their voices after reports of a massacre of up to 300 civilians in the western town of Samashki a week ago by special Russian forces. President Yeltsin, meanwhile, returned to Moscow from a three-week vacation, granting press interviews and commenting on the conflict in Tajikistan and frictions with Ukraine, but ignoring the issue of Chechnya.

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Paris Mayor Chirac held a solid lead in the last polls allowed before the first round of French presidential elections April 23. Fellow Conservative Premier Balladur was running neck-and-neck with Socialist Jospin. Only the two top finishers go to the May 7 runoff.

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Iraq scorned a UN resolution that would have allowed limited oil sales to buy food and medicine. The rejection was heralded with an orchestrated anti-US demonstration in Baghdad.

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Some 35,000 Turkish troops surrounded a rebel-Kurd area in Eastern Turkey in a push parallel to its northern Iraq attack. The nation's national-security council recommended that the Army pull out of Iraq by mid-May.

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Iranian President Rafsanjani visits India today, seeking closer economic ties and help in converting two Russian submarines for warm-water use. Iran wants to bolster its naval power in the Gulf, Western experts said. India will test-fire a surface-to-air missile this week, as the UN's NPT conference gets under way in New York. India has said it will not sign the NPT.

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Pope John Paul II told Palestinians and Kurds in his Easter message that only dialogue could help them, and he offered comfort to people hit by violence in Algeria, Bosnia, and Burundi.

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Voters deprived veteran Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash of the outright victory he had expected in a presidential poll Saturday. He faces former Prime Minister Eroglu in a second round next Saturday.

THE US

Diplomats from 175 countries gather today at the UN to try to keep a lid on nuclear weapons in the 21st century. The month-long conference will focus on extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Many developing countries want to tie renewal of the pact to pledges from nuclear powers to do more to dismantle their arsenals, as well as halt all nuclear testing and production of bomb material.

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Republicans running for president next year filed reports over the weekend on their fund-raising efforts, but statements from the front-runners failed to reach the Federal Election Commission. The FEC said reports arrived from Senator Specter, Pat Buchanan, and Congressman Dornan. Reports from six other candidates, including Senators Dole and Gramm, had not arrived when the office closed.

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President Clinton asked Congress to protect a short list of key legislation. Clinton said he assigns the highest priority to welfare reform, targeted tax cuts, and a crime bill that preserves the assault-weapons ban. In the Republican response to Clinton's weekly radio address, Congressman Archer said the package of tax reductions approved by Congress would trim the budget deficit by $30 billion more than the president's proposal.

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Americans told pollsters they like the idea of a ''flat tax'' with few or no deductions. A Newsweek survey found about two-thirds of Americans support either a 17-percent or 20-percent flat tax. In a Money magazine survey, 58 percent of the respondents said they liked the idea. Archer, meanwhile, said he wants to scrap the current income tax and replace it with a consumption tax.

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The all-male Citadel, faced with an appeals-court ruling that it violated Shannon Faulkner's rights by refusing to admit her, is still trying to keep her from being the first woman to wear its uniform. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the military college to either admit Faulkner by the fall or come up with a military-style program for women.

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Senators Specter and Kerrey asked the administration to provide protection to Jennifer Harbury, the American widow of a slain Guatemalan rebel leader, following an unconfirmed report that Guatemalan military officers may be plotting to assassinate her. The senators also asked the White House to broaden its current investigation into two murders in Guatemala to include the alleged threat against Harbury.

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Some 32,000 butchers, checkers, and baggers at 400 Safeway, Lucky, and Save Mart stores across northern California returned to work after union and management negotiators settled a nine-day strike and lockout.

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Top US and Japanese trade negotiators meet this week to try to resolve a long-standing quarrel over auto trade. The administration said it hopes to resolve the issue without resorting to action that could lead to an all-out trade war. But last week's lower-level talks that set the stage for negotiations today and tomorrow yielded little progress, the administration said.

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People have been killed in runway collisions that the National Transportation Safety Board says could have been prevented by a warning system delayed for four years within the FAA, the Washington Post said. In a letter to the NTSB, the FAA said the system was ''on track,'' but the FAA said this was not true, the Post said.

ETCETERA

I've come to the conclusion that the problems with the current [income tax] code are so deep that they can't be fixed.''

-- Congressman Archer, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee

They tried guns for cash, guns for groceries, and guns for concert tickets. Now police in San Francisco will hand out used computers to anyone turning in a handgun. Individuals and companies donated hundreds of IBM systems and software. The Black Chamber of Commerce will offer computer training.

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The Taj Mahal is losing its luster as toxic sulfur gases from factories corrode the marble. But yesterday, the US Agency for International Development in India signed an agreement to provide more than 200 Indian foundry owners modern pollution-prevention technology to help stop the decay of the 17th century tomb.

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Burl Ives, who died Friday, was an Oscar-winning actor and singer whose gentle voice helped popularize folk music. Ives was best known for songs such as ''Holly Jolly Christmas'' and for his roles in movies such as ''Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.''

10 Largest Corporate Mergers & Acquisitions

(Proposed $22.8 billion Chrysler bid would rank as No. 2)

1. RJR Nabisco Inc., acquired by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., 1989, $25 billion

2. Wellcome PLC, acquired by Glaxo PLC, 1995, $15 billion

3. Warner Communications, merged with Time Inc., 1990, $14.11 billion

4. Kraft Inc., acquired by Philip Morris, 1988, $13.44 billion

5. Gulf Corp., acquired by Standard Oil Co. of California, 1984, $13.4 billion

6. Squibb Corp., merged with Bristol-Myers, 1989, $12.09 billion

7. Getty Oil Co., acquired by Texaco Inc., 1984, $10.12 billion

8. Martin Marietta Corp., merged with Lockheed Corp, 1995, $10 billion

9. Paramount Communications, acquired by Viacom Inc., 1994, $9.6 billion

10. Blockbuster Entertainment, acquired by Viacom Inc., 1994, $7.6 billion

--Associated Press

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