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News In Brief

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NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana met Russian Foreign Minister Yvgeny Primakov at the Kremlin for discussions on improving bilateral relations. At issue was Russian concern over the alliance's plans to expand eastward by accepting into membership some former Soviet allies. Invitations to join NATO are expected to be issued at a summit in Madrid in July.

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Indonesia's leading democracy activist was blocked from seeking reelection to parliament. Megawati Sukarnoputri's name did not appear on the list of 2,293 candidates approved by the government. The list did, however, include four children of President Suharto, his half-brother, a daughter-in-law, and one cousin - all running for parliament for the first time.

Sunni Muslims in Pakistan destroyed an Iranian cultural center and called for the shutdown of the port of Karachi today. The Sunnis blamed Iran for a Jan. 18 bomb attack that killed their leader and 24 other people and injured at least 100. Sunnis and Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have had a long-running feud. Shiites are in the majority in neighboring Iran.

Somalia's two most powerful faction leaders met for the first time to try to negotiate the reopening of the air and seaports in Mogadishu, the capital. Forces led by Ali Mahdi Mohamed control the capital's northern sector, and Hussein Aideed controls south Mogadishu.

Anti-government rebels in Sudan claimed to have advanced to within 45 miles of the power supply for the capital, Khartoum. The claim could not be independently verified, and government forces admit to losing only two towns further from the hydroelectric dam at Damazin. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week rejected appeals to send troops to help Sudan's Army.

US hot-air balloonist Steve Fossett landed in a village in central India - failing to complete his attempt at an around-the-world flight. But he broke his own record for staying aloft in a balloon as well as the record for the longest balloon flight

Chancellor-designate Viktor Klima of Austria broke two days of silence on the resignation of his predecessor, Franz Vranitzky. But Klima said only that he would discuss his plans for the future once he officially assumes the office - probably later this week. The finance minister was named to the chancellorship after Vranitzky abruptly announced his resignation Jan. 18. Vranitzky had held the post for almost 11 years.

Latvian Prime Minister Andris Shkele quit after his honesty was questioned in naming a key political appointee. Shkele was accused of pressuring parliament to approve the appointment of controversial businessman Vassily Melnik as finance minister.


I do solemly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution ..."

- The presidential oath of office, as administered to Bill Clinton by Chief Justice of the US William Rehnquist.

More and more executives are taking pacifiers with them on business trips these days. To cope with stress? Not exactly. The Travel Industry Association of America says that of 275 million business trips taken in 1995, 15 percent included the children of executives. Taking a child along actually provides relief for parents, the group says. They don't have to worry about how their offspring are being looked after at home. And growing numbers of host companies now offer day care as a courtesy.

You can be asked for a political donation almost anywhere - even at 35,000 feet. After leaving his wallet behind, Colorado Gov. Roy Romer had to resort to asking fellow passengers for money on a flight to Los Angeles. He raised about $100. Continuing on to Washington, he even got one sympathizer to loan a credit card so he could use the in-flight phone. Romer promised to repay all debts.

Language barriers can indeed have benefits. Case in point: Amsterdam, where a masked gunman recently tried to rob a snack bar. But he left empty-handed because the only employee on duty was a foreign national who had just a limited understanding of Dutch.


Songwriters Hall of Fame Picks Five New Members

During June 10 ceremonies, five people will be inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Their names and some of their best-known works:

Joni Mitchell - "Chelsea Morning," "Both Sides Now," "Woodstock."

Phil Spector - "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," "Chapel of Love," "River Deep - Mountain High."

Harlan Howard - "I Fall to Pieces," "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail," "Heartaches by the Number."

Ernesto Lecuona - "Malaguena," "Sibony," "The Breeze and I."

Jimmy Kennedy - "The Isle of Capri," "Harbor Lights," "My Prayer."

- Associated Press