NATIONS EXPRESS ECONOMIC OPTIMISM The world's major industrial powers are expressing widespread optimism about global economic prospects this year, but US officials concede that they failed to win any new commitments for specific improvement from Japan and Germany. The announcement was made after talks that preceded today's start of the annual spring meetings of the 178-nation International Monetary Fund and its sister lending organization, the World Bank. Finance officials of the so-called Group of Seven the US, Japan, Germany, Britain, France, Canada, and Italy said they believed the world economy was heading for its best performance in five years. But IMF economic data show that this is due primarily to unexpectedly strong growth in the US. The IMF has cut its growth forecasts for both Japan and Germany due to their deep recessions. Burundi coup attempt

Mutinous paratroopers failed in an attempt to overthrow the government of Burundi, a military spokesman said yesterday. There have been concerns in Burundi that ethnic slaughter similar to the that in neighboring Rwanda would begin there. The turmoil follows the deaths of both nations' presidents in a plane crash several weeks ago. Migrant protests

Thousands of chanting United Farm Workers and supporters rallied Sunday at the California state Capitol, demanding improved working conditions while denouncing Gov. Pete Wilson for his immigration policies. The demonstrators gathered nearly 28 years to the day after a similar rally brought national attention to the plight of California's farm laborers. The rally, which capped a 24-day, 345-mile trek and membership drive, also marked the one-year anniversary of the death of UFW founder Cesar Chavez. South Korea parliament

South Korea's political parties haggled over parliamentary approval for a new prime minister yesterday as President Kim Young-sam prepared another Cabinet shake-up, parliamentary officials said. Mr. Kim named Lee Yung-dug on Friday to replace Lee Hoi-chang, who had quit as premier earlier in the day in an eruption of differences over the scope of the prime minister's power. The parliament agreed only to hold more negotiations later. Russia's new investments

Russia needs huge private investment and it has now passed laws that will protect foreign investors, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Shokhin said Sunday. Among the ``mechanisms,'' Mr. Shokhin said, were guarantees that foreign investors can take home their profits and guarantees on credits for oil and natural gas production. Revival of Russia's valuable oil industry offers one of the chief prospects for earning hard currency. Rutskoi vows opposition

After four months in jail and two months of self-imposed silence, former Russian Vice President Alexander Rutskoi said Sunday he is returning to politics and hopes to unite opponents of President Boris Yeltsin. On Thursday, Yeltsin is scheduled to sign a political truce with opponents, although some will not take part.

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