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President Bush asked Congress yesterday for a Pentagon budget in fiscal 1993 of $280.9 billion, $10 billion under this fiscal year. Cuts would fall heavily on hardware programs, as announced by President Bush Tuesday evening. Bush called for defense spending cuts of $50 billion through fiscal 1997.... In the new arms-cutting race, Russian President Boris Yeltsin - saying "conditions are now ripe announced yesterday that Russia would make further deep cuts in its nuclear, chemical, biological, and convent ional arms. Yeltsin also ended the alert status for 600 land- and sea-based strategic ballistic missiles.... The House Ways and Means Committee has approved a bill to provide an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits.... The US is taking steps to normalize relations with Vietnam following Vietnam's recent support for the Cambodian peace agreement and its expanded cooperation in trying to determine the fate of US servicemen missing since the Indochina war. MIDDLE EAST AND GULF

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In Kuwait, munitions left over from the Gulf war have killed or wounded 1,420 people, many of them children. The figure does not include 84 foreign and local experts killed while trying to remove the ordnance.... Algerian security forces have arrested the current chief spokesman of the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front, Rabah Kebir. The provisional leader of the group, Abdelkader Hachani, was arrested last week.... Jewish settlers placed mobile homes at a new site in the West Bank yesterday, claimin g they were implementing a long-delayed plan to set up a religious academy in the area. EUROPE

Serbian and Croatian forces have met the chief condition for deploying UN peacekeeping troops in Croatia by observing the 15th cease-fire of the Yugoslav civil war, UN Undersecretary Marrack Goulding said yesterday. But he added the leader of Croatia's main rebel Serbian enclave has not yet agreed to the deployment.... Russia announced it has selected two US firms and a Japanese company to help develop huge oil reserves in the Far East off Sakhalin Island, ending an unprecedented competition among multin ational oil companies seeking to drill in Russian waters.... A meeting between Chinese Prime Minister Li Ping and Swiss Justice Minister Arnold Koller was canceled Wednesday after Li refused to discuss human rights. AFRICA AND ASIA

The warring parties in Somalia are ready to sign a cease-fire to end the civil war that has claimed an estimated 20,000 lives since November last year, UN officials said yesterday.... North Korea will sign a long-awaited agreement allowing international inspection of its nuclear facilities today, South Korean Foreign Ministry officials said yesterday.... Japanese banks owed money by R.H. Macy are likely to help it reorganize, Japanese banking sources say.

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