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Russia

MOSCOW - Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin raised the stakes in a government confrontation with the hard-line parliament, suggesting he may resign if lawmakers vote no confidence in the government.

Israel

JERUSALEM - The government handed over $57 million in outstanding tax revenues to the Palestinians after withholding the money following a suicide bombing by Islamic militants in a Jerusalem market in July.

Italy

ROME - Five days after Italy's Communists brought down the government, Romano Prodi regained his job as premier after hard-liners made peace to keep the country on course for a single European currency.

Republic of Congo

BRAZZAVILLE - Former military leader Denis Sassou Nguesso's Cobra militia attacked the presidential palace here after capturing the international airport, witnesses said.

Sri Lanka

COLOMBO - Tamil Tiger rebels broke a two-day lull in the nation's war when they fired mortars at an eastern town and fought pitched battles with troops in the north, losing at least 40 of their men, military officials said.

Australia

SYDNEY - Health authorities are on alert after the outbreak of the deadly meningococcal brain disease that killed one person and infected four others.

Turkey

ANKARA - Warplanes bagan flying over Cyprus armed with live ammunition for the first time in 10 months because of tension with neighbor Greece, the Turkish press said.

Japan

TOKYO - The government hinted it may break with the United States and sign a global treaty banning land mines.

Taiwan

TAIPEI - The government played down China's latest offer to end a 27-month-old deadlock in negotiations, saying there was no way to predict the start of real dialogue.

Indonesia

JAKARTA - Forest fires raged unabated as the United States finalized plans to help fight the cause of a health-threatening smog that has blanketed parts of Southeast Asia.

Kenya

KISUMU - The death toll from a cholera epidemic near Lake Victoria has risen to at least 200, and medical officials are appealing for drugs.

Egypt

CAIRO - A military court formally charged two men with the premeditated murder of nine German tourists and an Egyptian driver in a firebomb and gun attack on a bus and adjourned the case to Oct. 18.

Lebanon

BAALBEK - Two Israeli warplanes rocketed suspected Hezbollah targets in the Syrian-controlled eastern Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border, Lebanese security sources said.

Austria

VIENNA - An Austrian fined for baring his behind at German Chancellor Helmut Kohl in Austria two years ago has asked that Kohl appear in court to identify his bottom.

Cuba

HAVANA - The government is seeking to downplay friction with the island's Roman Catholic Church, saying its relations with the church are improving in the run-up to next year's visit by John Paul II.

Vietnam

HANOI - The nation became the latest casualty of the Southeast Asian currency crisis when the central bank devalued the dong.