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News Briefs I

Yeltsin's Failing Health Leads to Lesser Role as President

Los Angeles Times

The Kremlin, disclosing that Russian President Boris N. Yeltsin is suffering from a more debilitating disorder than previously acknowledged, abruptly canceled a presidential trip to Vienna on Monday and said Yeltsin will play a lesser role in running the government.

"He will no longer be in charge of all current, daily issues of the economy," said Oleg N. Sysuyev, Yeltsin's deputy chief of staff. "The president will do his best to help the government exercise its powers, but not to the extent as it was before."

Presidential spokesman Dmitri Yakushkin said that Yeltsin, 67, had developed a condition marked by "unstable blood pressure and undue fatigue." Yakushkin said the president, who already is rarely seen in public, would need rest but not hospitalization.

The acknowledgment that Yeltsin is unable to play the dominant role in governing Russia comes after months of attempts by the Kremlin to assure the public that Yeltsin was in charge and actively working. It has become increasingly clear, however, that the president is incapacitated, and calls have been mounting for his resignation, even from his traditional allies.

U.N. Report Says Iraq Lied About Nerve Gas Supply

Los Angeles Times

Leaving open the possibility that Iraq retains a hidden supply of the quick-killing nerve agent VX, a panel of chemical weapons experts has concluded that the Iraqi government lied to U.N. weapons inspectors about its nerve gas arsenal, according to a report made public Monday.

The experts met at the United Nations last week to review tests conducted by laboratories in the United States, Switzerland and France on missile warhead fragments recovered from Iraq. Although only the American lab found definitive evidence of VX, one French test found traces of a nerve agent that could have been VX or sarin, each a deadly gas. Moreover, all three labs found evidence that the missile fragments had been treated with decontaminants, which raises the question of whether the warheads were "scrubbed" by Iraq to remove nerve gas elements before the tests were conducted.

The findings, reported to the Security Council on Monday, are significant because Iraq has repeatedly denied to U.N. weapons inspectors that it ever placed VX in munitions. The American tests, the experts found, showed that VX had been loaded into at least two missile warheads that were unilaterally destroyed by Iraq during or immediately after the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Impeachment Panel Considers Calling Lindsey, Bennett

The Washington Post

House Republicans are considering calling senior White House adviser Bruce R. Lindsey and Robert S. Bennett, President Clinton's lawyer in the Paula Jones case, to testify before the Judiciary Committee as part of its impeachment probe of the president, according to informed sources.

Republicans see Lindsey, who repeatedly invoked executive privilege rather than answer questions before the grand jury during independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr's investigation of Clinton, as a key figure in the administration's efforts to contain damaging information concerning the president. In a closed-door leadership meeting last month, House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., specifically identified Lindsey's unwillingness to cooperate with Starr as an example of the White House's obstructionist tactics.