The federal and state governments would buy childhood vaccines and distribute them free under a plan being considered by the Clinton administration to ensure that virtually all United States children are vaccinated. Drug companies do not like the idea because it would eat into their profits, one newspaper reported. But leading pediatricians and child-advocacy groups support the plan. Only about half of all US children get vaccinations. Clinton meets governors

President Clinton asked the country's governors Sunday for their help in solving the health care and budget crises that he said were "undermining the economic stability of every state in America." Speaking at a formal White House dinner for the National Governors' Association, Mr. Clinton said he was looking forward to working with the governors. He held a working meeting with them on health-care policy yesterday. Marines beat up gay

Three marines were arrested in Wilmington, N.C., after allegedly dragging a gay man out of a bar and beating him while shouting "Clinton must pay." The attackers apparently were angry about president Clinton's push to lift the ban on homosexuals in the military, police said. The three marines were each charged with four counts of assault and released on bond. American Express head

American Express said yesterday that its board of directors elected an outside director to replace James Robinson III as chairman. The huge financial and travel services company said Richard Furlaud was appointed to replace Mr. Robinson, who resigned as American Express chairman on Saturday. Mr. Furlaud is the former president of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. Early G7 meeting eyed

France said yesterday it favors an early meeting of leaders of the world's seven most industrialized nations, the so-called G7, and Germany said it was open to the idea. The call for an early summit came as the British pound plunged against the German mark in early currency-market trading and after Ireland devalued its currency by 10 percent over the weekend, bringing turmoil to money markets. Financial analysts forecast a turbulent week for currencies in the European exchange-rate mechanism, which aims to keep exchange rates stable. Romania toward EC

Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Vacaroiu flew to Brussels yesterday to sign an association agreement between the European Community and Romania, starting the process of Romania's integration into Europe's economic institutions. During his 48-hour visit, Mr. Vacaroiu was to meet European Commission President Jacques Delors and Danish Foreign Minister Niels Helveg Petersen, whose country holds the EC presidency. Arafat drives to Iraq

PLO chief Yasser Arafat left Amman for Baghdad yesterday, his first trip to the Iraqi capital since before the 1991 Gulf war. Palestinian Ambassador to Jordan Tayyeb Abdul-Rahim told Reuters that Mr. Arafat was traveling to Iraq overland, after discussing Middle East peace talks in Jordan.

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