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News Briefs I

Israeli President to Meet With Yasser Arafat

Los Angeles Times

In an apparent attempt to goad Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu '76 into meeting with Yasser Arafat, President Ezer Weizman announced Sunday that he will soon hold a summit of his own with the Palestinian leader.

The outspoken Weizman said his decision came partly in response to an urgent appeal from Arafat, a letter in which the president of the Palestinian Authority outlined his "troubles and problems" and asked Weizman for help in restarting stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Netanyahu has refused to meet with Arafat since his May 29 election. Substantive negotiations between the two sides also have been at a standstill since the election, and Arafat has warned, in increasingly urgent tones, that the peace process must progress soon or die.

Although Israel Radio reported Sunday that Netanyahu will also meet with Arafat in the coming weeks, the Israeli prime minister said again that he has no plans for such a meeting.

No date has been set for the talks between Arafat and Weizman, but the Israeli president said they will take place at his private home in the northern town of Caesarea, not his official residence in politically sensitive Jerusalem. Israel Radio reported that the meeting will be held within two weeks.

R.E.M. Inks Estimated $80 Million Deal with Warner Records

Los Angeles Times

R.E.M., the hottest free agent in the music business, signed a five-album contract Saturday with Warner Bros. Records worth an estimated $80 million - the largest recording contract ever awarded, sources said.

The Grammy-winning band's deal surpassed the $70 million mark achieved seven months ago by pop diva Janet Jackson as well as other mega-deals by such superstars as Michael Jackson and Madonna, whose six-album pacts included film and joint venture record label components.

The signing was announced unexpectedly at the Anaheim Convention Center Saturday, where Warner Music executives were gathered for their annual strategy summit. Delighted at the news, thousands of employees leaped to their feet and broke into a standing ovation.

"This is a watershed moment for Warner Bros. Records - an incredible new beginning for the company," said Steven Baker, president of the Burbank-based label. "R.E.M. embodies everything important about the culture of this company. They are a tremendously hard-working, successful band with integrity and vision. I can't describe how proud we are that R.E.M. is allowing Warner to continue our association with them."

Clinton Begins Whistle-Stop Trip To Democratic Convention

The Washington Post

President Clinton started his four-day chug to Chicago Sunday, hopping aboard a customized train and railing against Republicans with the sharpest and most unabashedly partisan rhetoric he's uttered in this election season.

The small, industrial cities Clinton visited Sunday afternoon on the "21st Century Express" are filled with old-time Democrats, and Clinton obliged the large and cheering throngs who turned out with rousing sermons. A president who the past two years often has distanced himself from lawmakers in his own party and played down partisan labels began what is effectively the start of his fall campaign with a blistering attack on congressional Republicans.

"They were wrong; we were right," Clinton said, his voice rising to a shout, as he referred to GOP opposition to the Family and Medical Leave Act passed early in his administration.

Referring to the budget standoff with Republicans that led to two federal government shutdowns over last fall and winter, Clinton bellowed: "We said Have at it. We don't stand for blackmail. We stand up from all"'