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USA

April 23, 2003



The Bush administration is rejecting calls to return UN arms inspectors to Iraq before lifting sanctions imposed on the former regime. "We are looking forward, not backward," White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said, as chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix was briefing the Security Council on proposals for a quick return. His team would have "credibility for being objective and independent" in verifying any discoveries of banned weapons, Blix said before the meeting. He previously criticized the US and Britain for using "shaky" intelligence to justify ousting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

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There are "certainly" things France can do to mend relations damaged by the Iraq war, a senior US diplomat said. Despite that government's pledges to adopt a pragmatic approach on postwar issues, "We still haven't gotten to the action point," Robert Bradke, deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, told reporters in Paris. He suggested France could assist in the Middle East peace process or work closely with the Bush administration on global trade talks.

More than 90 people were evacuated from a postal facility in Tacoma, Wash., after initial tests on a white powder found there detected a biotoxin. Four people were decontaminated as a precaution, a fire department spokeswoman said, although she and other officials all stressed that further testing was needed. The response is part of stepped-up safety procedures in the wake of anthrax attacks that killed five people in the weeks following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Although apologizing for failing to disclose executive benefits in the runup to union votes on $1.8 billion in annual pay and other givebacks to American Airlines, chief executive Donald Carty also defended the perks Monday as conservative for the industry. He repeated his pledge to file for bankruptcy if the givebacks are rejected. Transport workers have joined flight attendants in calling for a revote, and the board of the pilots union was meeting Tuesday on the matter. American is expected to announce a first-quarter loss of $800 million in a financial report due out Wednesday.

Three people, including a federal immigration worker, were charged in Michigan in an immigrant-smuggling scheme. Separate indictments issued by grand juries in Flint and Detroit accuse the three of conspiring to help some 130 people from Yemen and Lebanon enter the country. They're being sought by federal agents.

Robert Cheruiyot won the 2003 Boston Marathon, the 12th Kenyan to do so in the past 13 years. Svetlana Zakharova of Russia was the first woman across the finish line Monday. In the wheelchair division, South African Ernst Van Dyk clinched his third consecutive victory in the men's race, and American Christina Ripp won the women's race.

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