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New unemployment claims in late October fell to 360,000, the lowest in more than two years, the government said yesterday. The Labor Department report, considered a sign of hope amid other more dismal economic news, said claims fell by 16,000 from 376,000 the week before.... President-elect Clinton promised to "focus like a laser beam on this economy" as he assembles his White House team. He also planned calls to several world leaders yesterday to discuss foreign policy and the global economy. "I haven't

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made a decision about what Cabinet members to name in which order," he said.... President Bush on Wednesday made good his threat to veto the $27 billion urban aid and tax bill, killing the measure because of its tax increases on businesses and upper-income Americans. He signed the veto on Air Force One as he flew home in defeat from Houston. MIDDLE EAST

Saudi Arabia has turned down a PLO request for Chairman Yasser Arafat to visit the kingdom and mend relations strained by the Gulf war, a Palestinian official said yesterday.... An Israeli district court ordered the government to pay more than $80,000 in damages to the family of an unarmed Palestinian killed by Israeli Army undercover agents and to a cousin who was also wounded in the same incident. AFRICA

The United Nations was negotiating yesterday for the release of 20 Brazilian and 50 Russian workers kidnapped by opposition UNITA soldiers in eastern Angola, where they were working on a Congo River dam project. The death toll from fierce clashes between Angolan government troops and UNITA forces may be twice the 1,200 reported until now.

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