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BEIJING - The government said its economic growth target of 8 percent for the year was still within reach despite a slower first-half performance, but economists cast doubt on such hopes.

BEIJING - Critics are assailing lavish plans to stage the Puccini opera "Turandot" in Beijing's Forbidden City, saying the ancient imperial palace is too historic to be used for shows.


BUENOS AIRES - Argentina's ruling Peronist Party voted at a special congress to try all legal means to enable President Carlos Menem to stand for a third consecutive term in 1999.


PHNOM PENH - Two representatives from military-ruled Myanmar will take part in a U.N.-organized team observing Cambodia's July 26 general elections.


MEXICO CITY - The government one-upped Zapatista rebels in a war of communiques, calling on guerrillas to return to peace talks just hours after a rebel commander wrote off the peace process as useless.

MEXICO CITY - A tropical storm churning off Mexico's Pacific coast threatened to bring flash floods and mud slides to the country's mountainous west, U.S. and Mexican meteorologists said.

South Korea

SEOUL - A fishing boat captain who found a North Korean submarine off the country's east coast last month is in line for a reward of more than $120,000, government officials said. It would be South Korea's biggest ever reward for information on suspected spies or infiltrating vessels.


BONN - Chancellor Helmut Kohl's government said it aimed to release a report on child welfare before the September general election following allegations the document was being held up for party political reasons.


KINGSTON - Cuban President Fidel Castro will make an official three-day visit here later this month, a government source said.


HELSINKI - A mission to salvage a champagne-laden ship that sank in the Baltic Sea in 1916 has resumed after a three-day delay caused by heavy winds, the head of the expedition said.


ATHENS - A furious member of parliament whose house was robbed entered the legislature toting a pistol and threatening to beat up the country's public order minister for failing to do his job.


TEGUCIGALPA - A half-million Hondurans have set out to eliminate the breeding grounds of a dengue-carrying mosquito, health officials said. It was dubbed "D-day" by local authorities.


ISLAMABAD - Six people were killed by overnight Indian firing and shelling across a control line into the Pakistan-ruled part of the disputed Kashmir region, the official APP news agency said.


BRASILIA - Brazil needs to rethink its anti-drugs policy to fight an "emerging mafia" of drug-runners linked to Colombia's cocaine and heroin cartels, the head of Brazil's new anti-drugs office said.


PARIS - A former French prime minister and two former ministers were sent to trial, charged with manslaughter in connection with a 1980s distribution of AIDS-tainted blood which killed hundreds of hemophiliacs.