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President Clinton said he would let British and Irish leaders decide whether he should visit Northern Ireland before a May 22 vote on the province's recently negotiated peace agreement. The president said he didn't "want to do something that would undermine the chances for success." His comments came after a meeting with US envoy George Mitchell, who mediated the accord and urged Clinton to make the trip.
Clinton was to take part in a town-hall meeting in Houston on how racial issues help and hurt the world of sports. Among other scheduled panelists: New York Jets wide receiver Keshawn Johnson, Olympic medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, St. Johns University basketball player Felipe Lopez, San Diego Padres president John Moores, Cincinnati Reds Hall of Famer Joe Morgan.
Clinton leaves today for four days in Chile, where he will join heads of state from 34 Western Hemisphere nations for a two-day Summit of the Americas in Santiago. The centerpiece of the summit will be negotiations to produce a hemispheric free-trade zone by 2005.
The State Department tried to block the execution in Virginia of a Paraguayan national, but the Justice Department told the US Supreme Court to deny appeals by death-row inmate Angel Francisco Breard and by Paraguay. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright wrote Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R), asking him to stay the execution because of an order by the World Court that it not be carried out. A spokesman said the administration believed the high court did not have power to stay the execution, but that Gilmore did. Breard's lawyers said his 1993 murder conviction was unconstitutional because he was denied access to Paraguayan consular officials during detention, an alleged breach of the 1963 Vienna Convention.
The Supreme Court refused to block a lower-court ruling that North Carolina must fashion a new redistricting plan for its 12th congressional district. Three of the nine justices dissented. Earlier this month, a lower court declared the district plan unconstitutional and ordered reconfiguration for the second time in two years, saying lawmakers had improperly considered racial factors.
A statute allowing the clergy to carry concealed guns in church is scheduled to be signed into law today by Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton (D). Ministers and priests of rural churches reportedly lobbied for the measure after the clergy were left out of a 1996 state law allowing certain people to carry concealed weapons.
Vice President Al Gore announced new steps to improve aviation safety, including more rigorous engine inspections and mandatory installation of enhanced ground-warning systems within three years. US officials say they hope to cut the nation's fatal-accident rate by 80 percent over 10 years.
Sales at retail stores fell in March for the first time in five months, weakened by a falloff in demand for costly durable goods, the Commerce Department said. Total sales declined 0.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted $218.38 billion, following a revised 0.7 percent gain in February that was previously reported as a 0.5 percent rise. Economists had forecast a 0.1 percent increase in March.
The consumer price index was unchanged in March for the second time this year, the Labor Department said. A closely watched "core" index rose a only a slight 0.1 percent - below forecasts of a 0.2 percent increase - after a 0.3 percent rise in February.
Five former commanders of the USS Constitution joined forces to protest plans by the Navy to sail the 200-year-old vessel in open seas this summer. The former commanders of "Old Ironsides" say it is too frail to make a planned trip in August to the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine.
Hundreds of thousands of copies of the new peace agreement landed on the doorsteps of homes across Northern Ireland as the campaign began for ratification in a May 22 referendum. But forces on both sides of the sectarian divide vowed to sabotage it. Speaking for Protestant rejectionists, the Rev. Ian Paisley called the deal a "betrayal" and a "surrender" to the Irish Republican Army. An IRA splinter group said the peace process "ignores Britain's centuries-old subjugation of the Irish nation" and warned it would continue to shoot and bomb targets in the province.
The Communist Speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament urged the confirmation of Prime Minister-designate Sergei Kiriyenko rather than risk having President Yeltsin call new national elections. Gennady Seleznyov left a meeting with Yeltsin saying, "my options have been exhausted." Communists object to Kiriyenko on grounds that he's too inexperienced for the post and led in voting to reject his nomination last week. A second vote is scheduled for Friday.