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World datelines


CANBERRA — The government relaxed some of its remaining tough border controls against foot-and-mouth disease after quarantine investigators said threats of importing the disease had eased.


HONG KONG — A severe tropical storm hit China today, destroying hundreds of houses, flooding farmland and reportedly killing one person after leaving more than 70 dead in the Philippines. Utor was downgraded from a typhoon before making landfall in Shanwei in Guangdong province.


BERLIN — A memorial service for the wife of former Chancellor Helmut Kohl was scheduled for next week, Kohl's office said. Hannelore Kohl, 68, was found dead at the family's home Thursday. She killed herself out of despair at an allergy to sunlight that forced her to stay inside during daytime for the past 15 months, according to Kohl's office.


JAKARTA — President Abdurrahman Wahid repeated a threat to declare a state of emergency if the National Assembly proceeds with plans to impeach him next month.


UNITED NATIONS — The government plans to sign a memorandum of understanding extending the U.N. oil-for-food program, Iraq's U.N. ambassador said, and will resume oil exports after a month's hiatus.


DUBLIN — The government introduced legislation to outlaw opinion polls in the week before elections and referendums, a move that journalists and a handful of politicians condemned as censorship.


HEBRON, West Bank — Four Palestinian demonstrators were injured by live fire from Israeli soldiers in the West Bank town of Hebron during confrontations before and after Muslim prayers, witnesses said.


ASTANA — The nation's chief taxman said he had evaded taxes himself before taking office and planned to take advantage of a tax dodgers' amnesty to legalize funds he had squirreled away. "I will take advantage of this scheme," State Revenues Minister Zeinulla Kakimzhanov told a news conference, "I used to earn decent money (as a businessman), but not everything was registered under my name."


SKOPJE — Ethnic Albanian rebels and government forces clashed briefly after the start of a NATO-brokered cease-fire — but appeared to respect a deal aimed at ending a 4-month-old Albanian insurgency that threatens to engulf this Balkan country in civil war.


MUZAFFARABAD — A party that has pledged to intensify the drive to end Indian rule in Kashmir won an election in the Pakistani part of the disputed Himalayan region, Election Commission officials said. The right-wing Muslim Conference of Sardar Abdul Qayyum Khan won 21 of 40 seats in the state assembly elections held Thursday.


MOSCOW — The government has invited the four other leading nuclear powers to start a permanent consultation process that would encourage deeper nuclear arms cuts and help preserve the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, a senior Foreign Ministry official said. The move appears to be another attempt to prevent the United States from deploying a missile defense, this time by rallying international opposition to Washington's plan.

MOSCOW — The lower house of parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill that would bar foreigners from owning a controlling interest in national television. It must be approved by the upper house, the Federation Council, and signed by President Putin to become law.

South Korea

SEOUL — A total of 250 North Koreans have defected to the South so far this year after fleeing their famine-struck homeland, Seoul's National Intelligence Service said.


KIEV — A nuclear reactor at Yuzhna atomic power plant was halted after malfunction in its steam generator system, the state nuclear Energoatom company said. No radiation leaks were reported, Energoatom said. The company did not say when the reactor would be restarted.


PRISTINA — International authorities running Kosovo said they were suspending five top commanders in the Western-backed successor to the rebel Kosovo Liberation Army after they appeared on a U.S. blacklist. The blacklist was issued in conjunction with an executive order signed by President Bush last week. It targets people aiming to destabilize the Balkans and bans them from receiving funds from the United States.