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The US Supreme Court yesterday voted 8 to 1 to allow the Bush administration to complete the forced return of thousands of asylum-seeking Haitian boat people to their Caribbean homeland, rejecting the argument that the Haitians would suffer irreparable harm.... Warning that a fourth round of Middle East peace talks, which opened in Washington yesterday, are in danger of collapsing, Faisal al-Husseini, a Palestinian leader involved in the talks, urged the US to declare publicly that Israel must freeze Jew ish settlements in Arab lands. MIDDLE EAST

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The Iraqi port of Umm Qasar would be divided between Iraq and Kuwait in a new border drawn up by a United Nations commission, putting Iraq's only naval base under Kuwaiti control, The Times newspaper reported in London yesterday. The paper quotes an unnamed European diplomat as saying that the border decision could eventually be the cause of a new war.... The Israeli Army clamped a curfew on the entire Jenin district in the occupied West Bank yesterday after a Palestinian gunman killed an Israeli securit y guard. EUROPE AND AFRICA

In a sign of the rising popularity of Romania's opposition, the Democratic Convention won this weekend's mayoral race in Bucharest and other major cities. General elections are expected in the spring.... The leader of South Africa's white liberals, Zach de Beer, asked blacks yesterday to avoid protests that might drive whites to vote against reform in an expected whites-only referendum on abolishing apartheid. President Frederik de Klerk was due to announce the date of the referendum - expected to be Mar ch 17. "If, for the sake of protesting against the holding of one more white poll, the forces of the democratic left were to put the Conservative Party in control of South Africa, it would be the most tragic case in history of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face," said De Beer. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

China plans to step up its economic reforms and promote more capitalist ideas, according to editorials Sunday and yesterday in the official Communist Party newspaper, People's Daily. And UPI reports "fresh signs" that Beijing is warming to more "give and take" in trade negotiations with the US.... Chinese Oil Minister Wang Taw said yesterday during a visit to Indonesia that his country is willing to cooperate with OPEC in a bid to stabilize oil prices at $21 a barrel.... A Malaysian minister has alleged that a Canadian member of Parliament urged jungle nomads in Sarawak to use blowpipes with poison darts against the government to stop the destruction of rain forests. A major tropical hardwood producer, Malaysia is often accused of indiscriminately destroying rain forests.... Pakistan and China have agreed to speed up building a Chinese nuclear power plant in Pakistan.

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