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MIDDLE EAST AND GULF The UN Security Council has delayed ratifying a permanent Persian Gulf cease-fire while it reviews Iraq's written acceptance of the plan. The cease-fire was to have gone into effect Tuesday afternoon. The Council did, however, approve creating a 1,440-member peacekeeping force once the cease-fire goes into effect.... The Bush administration has decided against a plan for establishing a safe haven inside Iraq for Kurdish refugees. Lawmakers said President Bush did not believe such a plan could win UN support.... Marcel Roux, a volunteer from Doctors Without Borders, an international medical relief group, told reporters at the UN that up to 1,000 Iraqi Kurds are dying each hour from exposure and hunger.... Two American doctors who just returned from a tour of Iraq said Tuesday in Boston that they saw the makings of a health disaster ``of immense proportions'' there during a five-day visit to Karbala, Najaf, Hilla, and Baghdad. They said the destroyed infrastructure - electricity, water and sewage syst ems, and transport - laid the groundwork for such a disaster.... Secretary of State James Baker left Israel and headed for Egypt Wednesday with an agreement in hand from Israel to participate in a proposed regional peace conference involving the Israelis, the Arab states, and the Palestinians.


The International Monetary Fund expects the economies of the industrialized world to slump by 1.4 percent this year, the worst performance since 1982, but looks for a rebound next year, Western diplomats in Washington said Tuesday.... The US Tuesday presented Vietnam's UN representative with a plan to normalize relations and called for Vietnam to first help end the 12-year civil war in Cambodia.... MDN MThe Defense Department, in an effort to save its two biggest contractors from bankruptcy filings during the Gulf war, gave them two extra years to repay a $1.3 billion debt. Eleanor Spector, director of defense procurement at the Pentagon, said McDonnell Douglas and General Dynamics were given two years to pay the debt on their failed contract to develop a now canceled A-12 attack plane for the Navy.... Defense Secretary Richard Cheney will recommend on Thursday the closing or shrinking more than 30 major domestic military bases.


John Updike, one of America's most respected novelists, Neil Simon, its most popular playwright, and a woman reporter, Caryle Murphy of the Washington Post, who stayed in Kuwait after Iraq's invasion, won Pulitzer Prizes Tuesday. Of the 25 awards, 11 were won by women, including the top Pulitzer journalism award - the gold medal for public service - which went to Jane Schorer MD NMof Des Moines Register for a pathbreaking series on a woman rape victim's ordeal. Robert Christopher, secretary of the Pulitzer Prize board, said this year's awards contained the highest number of women winners in the Pulitzer's 75-year history and ``reflects the growing importance of women in American journalism.''

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