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News Briefs, part 2

Clinton Softens Haiti Sanctions

Los Angeles Times

President Clinton, asserting that American military intervention will soon end human rights abuses in Haiti, softened U.S. economic sanctions against the impoverished Caribbean nation Monday to permit a resumption of airline service, financial transactions and humanitarian projects.

In a speech to the U.N. General Assembly, Clinton said it is time to begin rebuilding Haiti's shattered economy because elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted in a bloody military coup three years ago, is scheduled to regain power in less than three weeks.

"Essential civil order will be restored," Clinton said. "Human rights violations will be curbed. ... The military leaders will step down, the democratic government will be restored. President Aristide will return."

The president said he has already lifted U.S. sanctions except those aimed directly at military leaders and their civilian supporters, and he urged other countries to do the same. He said the embargo imposed by the U.N. Security Council should be ended as soon as Aristide returns to Haiti, scheduled for soon after Oct. 15. Food, medicine and other humanitarian goods should begin flowing immediately, he added.

Relaxation of the sanctions was part of a U.S. charm offensive intended to show most Haitians that the projected 15,000-strong U.S. military presence is friendly. In other steps, the U.S. forces began distributing food and medicine and launched a project to restore electric service throughout the country. The U.S. military also announced plans to protect the Haitian Parliament and to transport exiled lawmakers back to Port-au-Prince for a key meeting on Wednesday.

Indian Plague Outbreak Under Control

Los Angeles Times

Health officials reported Monday that India's first outbreak of plague in nearly three decades was firmly under control, but they were still hunting carriers of the deadly bacillus who, they said, have become as dangerous as "human bombs."

As of Monday, 41 deaths from pneumonic plague had been registered in the western city of Surat near the Arabian Sea coast, and 453 cases of the highly contagious disease were suspected in the city.

The officials called those numbers encouraging proof that the spread of the dreaded illness, which has killed 12 million Indians in this century, had been checked.

"It is down. It is under control," said Dr. N.J. Kar, chief medical officer at the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in New Delhi.

No new deaths had been reported in the previous 24 hours, officials of the Health Ministry said Monday. Health Secretary M.S. Dayal had already given assurances that "there is going to be no large-scale outbreak."

However, others feared that the panicky exodus that led to the outflow of up to 400,000 of Surat's 2 million people since the epidemic was announced Thursday could spread the plague to the rest of India. Anyone carrying the bacteria might transmit it through a cough or sputum, medical officials said.