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MIDDLE EAST Iran has signed a $100 million contract to extinguish fires on 60 wellheads in Kuwait's Burgan oil field, Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqazadeh said.... Kuwait's rulers are now trying to repair a rift with Palestinians, holding meetings with community leaders and vowing to clamp down on human rights violations against foreign workers.... Planeloads of Iranians - more than 7,000 people in all - have arrived in Saudi Arabia for the first time in four years to take part in the annual hajj (pilgrimage).


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The Supreme Court Tuesday let stand Georgia's minors' access law, which bars bookstores from openly exhibiting material deemed "harmful" to minors even if it is not considered legally obscene.... The court on Tuesday also said it is not necessarily illegal to exclude Hispanics from a jury because of fear they will not abide by instructions to consider only the official English translation of testimony from Spanish-speaking witnesses.... President Mikhail Gorbachev and President Bush had a long "midnight

talk" by telephone Monday, Gorbachev's press spokesman said, agreeing to work toward a summit but failing to set a date for the meeting. A spokesman for Bush said the two leaders are staying closely in touch.... A French-backed consortium that includes former Texas Lt. Gov. Ben Barnes won a state franchise to build a $5.5 billion high-speed "bullet" train that will eventually link Texas' largest cities.... The estimated Iraqi death toll from the Persian Gulf war, postwar rebel uprisings, and the flight of r

efugees exceeds 200,000, according to a report released in Washington yesterday by the environmental group Greenpeace.... Convicts at a prison for New York state's most dangerous criminals, holding three guards hostage, demanded early yesterday that a television crew be allowed to film them.


The main Eritrean rebel group, the Eritrean People's Liberation Front, said yesterday it was forming a provisional government to run the Ethiopian Red Sea province pending a referendum on independence there, but it denied it was declaring immediate independence from Ethiopia.... Two Colombians, William Quinceno De La Pava and Alfredo Munoz, will be extradited from Panama to face drug-trafficking charges in the US state of Illinois.... NATO's effort to reshape itself has deep political purposes. By basin g

the new force structure on multinational units, Germany and the US are tied closely into European security, alliance sources say, while the move also blocks the temptation for NATO nations to go their own way with massive defense cuts.... Two East Timorese soccer players are seeking political protection from Indonesia at the Portuguese Embassy in Canberra while waiting for permission to go to Portugal.... New Zealanders in Velcro suits are bounding off a mini-trampoline and sticking themselves to a Velcro -

covered wall in the latest madcap sport at a pub in Napier.

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