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World datelines

Brazil

SAO PAULO — A school minibus smashed head-on into an oncoming truck on a road in central Brazil, killing 10 children and two adults, police said.

Cambodia

PHNOM PENH — The nation will hold its first local elections Feb. 3, 2002, Prime Minister Hun Sen said, adding that the numbers in the date added up to nine, which is considered lucky by many Cambodians.

Congo

KINSHASA — All sides in Congo's civil war have started pulling back from a northern battle zone, the United Nations said, confirming compliance with a key step in a cease-fire accord.

Germany

BERLIN — Vandals smashed dozens of windows at a railroad office building in eastern Berlin to protest the planned resumption of nuclear waste transports to Germany.

Guatemala

GUATEMALA CITY — A bus slammed into several cars before careening off a cliff on the southern outskirts of Guatemala's capital Tuesday, killing at least 14 people and injuring 20 others. The apparent cause of the accident was brake failure.

Iraq

BAGHDAD — Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz has rejected "smart sanctions" proposed by the United States to overcome the shortcomings of the U.N. embargo on Iraq. "The embargo is a crime, and a crime cannot be smart or stupid," the Iraqi News Agency INA quoted Aziz as saying.

Qatar

DOHA — Saudi Arabia and Qatar signed a border agreement ending a long-standing dispute that a decade ago led to armed clashes between the two oil-rich Persian Gulf Arab states.

Romania

BUCHAREST — Ilie Verdet, a veteran Communist who served as prime minister under late dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, has died of a heart attack, the Socialist Party said. He was 75.

Russia

MOSCOW — A top Kremlin official said planned contacts between U.S. officials and Chechen rebel envoys would fuel further violence in the troubled province and sour relations between Moscow and Washington. A U.S. official said on Tuesday that further contacts with envoys of the separatist Chechen government were planned for this week.

South Korea

SEOUL — The government named a new health and welfare minister after the incumbent stepped down to take responsibility for a new medical system expected to cause hefty losses at the nation's health insurance corporation. Ruling party lawmaker Kim Won-gil will replace Choi Sun-jung, the presidential house said.

Sri Lanka

TRINCOMALEE — A Sri Lankan navy boat was sunk by Tamil Sea Tigers. Seven sailors were missing and presumed killed, a military spokesman said.

Thailand

BANGKOK — Thai and Myanmar officials plan to hold their first border talks in two years in April in Myanmar's northeastern town of Kengtung, in a bid to soothe tension simmering after their soldiers clashed last month.

Turkey

ANKARA — Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit called for more understanding from the West for Turkey's economic crisis, saying the country's key role in securing regional peace was a major cause of its problems.

United Arab Emirates

ABU DHABI — The government announced that North American, European and some Asian visitors will be granted visas upon arrival. The Interior Ministry said the easing of visa rules was aimed at boosting relations with friendly nations.

Vietnam

HANOI — The government banned public protests in big cities ahead of an approaching congress of the ruling Communist Party, official media reported.