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Democratic and GOP congressional leaders were to meet with President Clinton to discuss taxes. Officials said they would take stock of where the budget process stands, rather than broach new ideas. House and Senate conferees also were working out tax issues. The lawmakers are trying to reconcile differences in their respective bills in time for Congress to pass final tax legislation before its August recess.

Democratic fund-raiser John Huang may have had a formal relationship with an ex-employer while working at the Commerce Department and the Democratic National Committee, Republican investigators said. Heading into a second week of Senate hearings on campaign fund-raising abuses, Governmental Affairs Committee sources said they had obtained a registration form for a March 1996 World Bank conference on which Huang is listed as an "adviser" to the Lippo Group. The committee wants to know whether Huang used his position at Commerce to provide sensitive information on China to the Indonesia-based conglomerate.

The White House released a sternly worded letter to director Robert Zemeckis, saying his use of presidential sound bites in the movie "Contact" manipulated images of Clinton's public statements, took them out of context, and went beyond the usual bounds of satire and parody. "By appropriating [his] image and words in this manner, you have essentially given him a role in your film without his authorization," White House counsel Charles Ruff said in the letter, dated July 11.

The US is shipping 100,000 metric tons of corn, rice, soya mix, and other grains worth $27 million to North Korea, the State Department said. It is in addition to $25 million in surplus food sent to North Korea in February. Floods have exacerbated a food crisis in North Korea.

Fashion designer Gianni Versace was fatally shot outside his Miami Beach mansion, authorities said. Versace was considered one of the world's leading ready-to-wear designers and a symbol of Italian fashion. He was reportedly shot at point-blank range after walking back from a cafe.

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