News In Brief

In their first open clash, Russia's top two leaders took opposing views on a political truce that could soothe sour relations with parliament. President Boris Yeltsin publicly rebuked new prime minister Yevgeny Primakov, who had suggested that impeachment proceedings be abandoned in exchange for a Yeltsin promise not to dissolve parliament for the rest of the year. Yeltsin said he would not give up any of his powers. He has a history of firing political appointees he suspects of gaining too much influence or having excessive ambition.

For the fourth day in a row, American jets attacked missile and artillery sites in Iraq as the latest confrontation with the Baghdad government deepened. A US military spokesman said Air Force planes on routine patrol had been targeted by ground batteries in the northern "no fly" zone. Iraqi officials said 11 civilians died in another US attack Monday near the southern city of Basra.

Celebrations of India's National Day were blighted by reports of another outbreak of violence. At least 24 people died and 13 others were wounded in an attack on their homes in the eastern state of Bihar. The assault was blamed on a private army hired by upper-caste landlords. The victims were believed to be supporters of the Communist Party of India, which sides with those seeking a radical redistribution of land. The incident came on the heels of new clashes between Hindus and Christians.

Emergency crews from as far away as Japan were en route to Colombia after a powerful earthquake rocked the latter's central coffee-growing region. Officials said at least 479 people died, more than 1,750 others were hurt, and an estimated 180,000 were left homeless in the Andean mountain city of Armenia alone.

The arrival of International Monetary Fund experts for key meetings in Brazil was overshadowed by two new hits to the country's fragile finances. The real, freed by the government to float on financial markets, fell to a new low: 1.94 against the US dollar. Meanwhile, a major London bond-rating agency, Fitch IBCA, became the latest to downgrade Brazil's credit-worthiness. The visiting officials are to prepare for talks on Brazil's compliance with terms of last year's $41.5 billion rescue package sponsored by the IMF.

The more than $600 billion owed to foreign lenders by Latin American countries should be written off as unpayable, delegates to an international conference in Honduras were told. Msgr. Oscar Rodriguez, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Tegucigalpa, called the massive debt "a whip that is lashing the poorest people." Seventy percent of the debt is owed by Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico.

Because of new concerns about his health, King Hussein of Jordan flew back to a US clinic for resumption of urgent medical treatment - eight days after his return home. In an airport ceremony, he swore in his eldest son, Abdullah, as regent in his absence. Earlier, Abdullah took another oath - as crown prince, succeeding his uncle, Hussein's brother, Hassan.

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