News In Brief
President Clinton completed a two-day visit to Nigeria saying the success of democracy there was vital for Africa and the world. Clinton bypassed the continent's most populous nation and its then-military dictator, Sani Abacha, during his first trip to sub-Saharan Africa in 1998. At a state banquet, democratically elected President Olusegun Obasanjo asked the US to help reduce Nigeria's $28 billion foreign debt, but Clinton earlier said much of it was owed to European lenders and that his administration had only limited ability to ease the problem.
Just days before Clinton plans to visit another head of state, this time in Colombia, US Customs officials announced the seizure of $1 billion worth of cocaine linked to a major narcotics ring there by an international task force. Named "Operation Journey," the two-year, 12-nation effort resulted in 43 arrests and the confiscation of 25 tons of the drug. Clinton's visit Wednesday is intended to be a show of support, analysts suggested, for Colombian President Andrs Pastrana's efforts to fight the cocaine trade and end Colombia's civil war. The US Congress recently approved $1.3 billion in funding for Pastrana's plan.
The tax-cut proposals offered by leading presidential candidates could hurt the US economy, a top International Monetary Fund official argued. At a conference of international economic advisers, Stanley Fischer, the IMF's deputy managing director, said a large tax cut would be risky, given the nation's dependence on foreign investment. Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush has offered a $1.3 billion tax cut, while his Democratic opponent, Al Gore, has proposed a $500 million reduction.
Both candidates, meanwhile, planned to focus on the issue of healthcare this week, with the Bush campaign set to air a commercial touting his plan in response to impending attacks from the Gore camp, analysts said. The Republican National Committee also readied a health care ad that criticizes Gore for proposing a "big-government plan."
An exiled poet whose detention by police in China sparked criticism from writers and human rights activists around the world, arrived in San Francisco. Huang Beiling, who has a green card allowing him to reside in the US, had been accused of illegally publishing and distributing a literary journal, and was subsequently held for 16 days. US diplomats negotiated his release after mounting pressure from international groups, analysts said. But Huang maintained China had released him so its relations with the US would not be affected.
At a Washington rally commemorating the 37th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s 'I Have a Dream' speech, his son, Martin Luther King III, called on Clinton to issue an executive order banning the police practice of racial profiling. From the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King and other civil rights leaders asked elected officials to address this and other issues important to minorities.
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