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News Briefs I

Norwegians Grapple with Social Belt-Tightening

Los Angeles Times
OSLO, Norway

Tor Steig, director of economic policy for the Confederation of Norwegian Business and Industry, says that in Norway's current political climate, the next government is apt to "find more and more uses for this money, without having more and more people to employ."

From his Oslo high-rise office overlooking a forest of Swedish-manned building cranes, Steig is calling for a fiscal tightening. "But that isn't easy," he says, "because we have a lot of money, and it's hard to tell people that we cannot use our money to help the old and the sick."

Or the single mothers, adds Maria Wattne, a young Oslo journalist who is raising a primary-school-age daughter and is something of a self-taught authority on the problems of Norway's poor.

Yes, she insists, there are still poor people in super-rich Norway - and she worries that without more government help, they will fall ever further behind those most benefiting from the boom. Over dinner in an Oslo cafe, she pulls from her purse a newspaper clipping asserting that the richest 10 percent of the population advanced in the past decade, while the poorest 10 percent lost ground.

U.N. Bars Sale of Oil, Arms to Sierra Leone

The Washington Post

The Security Council Wednesday barred sale of oil and weapons to Sierra Leone in an effort to force the military junta that seized power in May to step aside and restore the civilian government of exiled President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah.

The 15-nation council also called on the 185 U.N. states to prevent foreign travel by members of the junta and adult members of their families. The council's action was taken to reinforce an embargo imposed against Sierra Leone by the Economic Community of West African States.

The junta, led by Maj. Johnny Paul Koroma, has been in a test of strength with Sierra Leone's neighbors since it ousted Kabbah in a violent coup. Koroma has refused to restore civilian rule and has vowed to stay in power until 2001. Last week Kabbah made an emotional appeal to the U.N. General Assembly to save his country from military oppression.

The resolution adopted unanimously by the council instructs U.N. members to prevent sale, supply or transport to Sierra Leone of "petroleum and petroleum products and arms and related materiel of all types, including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment and spare parts." It permits oil shipments for humanitarian purposes, but specifies they must be approved in advance by the United Nations.

Chinese Prepare for Leader's Visit to U.S.

The Washington Post

From a wreath-laying at Pearl Harbor to a speech at Harvard University and a chat with community leaders in Los Angeles, Chinese President Jiang Zemin is planning to embark on an ambitious promotional tour as part of a rare state visit to the United States scheduled to begin near the end of this month.

With a schedule that includes a tour of Colonial Williamsburg and a visit to Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the trip seems designed as a major attempt by the Chinese to warm the popular American perception of China and its leadership, even in the shadow of public protests that are expected to follow him across the country, Clinton administration officials and independent analysts said Wednesday.

The ceremonial and other public components of the trip are likely to overshadow the diplomatic substance, administration officials said. While the administration is hoping for some agreements, such as Chinese permission for the Drug Enforcement Administration to open a Beijing office, major disagreements over trade and weapons proliferation are unlikely to be resolved, officials said.

The Oct. 26-Nov. 2 trip will be the first state visit to the United States by a Chinese leader since Tiananmen Square in 1989.