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News Briefs

Russia Celebrates Chechen Victory

THE WASHINGTON POST -- MOSCOW

Russia’s leaders declared victory in the war in Chechnya Monday, celebrating with a military parade and promoting the commanders who spearheaded the bloody conflict, as fighting against separatist guerrillas continued in the southern mountains.

Defense Minister Igor Sergeyev, presiding over a ceremony at Severny Airport, north of the Chechen capital Grozny, said that “the final phase of the military operation” against the Chechen fighters “is another success.”

As Russian warplanes staged a flyby, Sergeyev handed out awards and said, “For there to be peace in this long-suffering territory, there has to be total victory.”

The conflict, which broke out last summer, has resulted in thousands of deaths as Russian troops pummeled the rebels with heavy artillery and missiles, and waged a street-by-street battle for Grozny which left most of the capital in ruins by the time the fighters withdrew.

India Sees Improved Ties With Clinton Visit

THE WASHINGTON POST -- NEW DELHI

Now that the White House has allayed India’s fears of U.S. interference in its dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir, Indian officials and opinion makers are looking forward to President Clinton’s visit next month as a way to reduce tension over several issues, including nuclear proliferation.

“Nothing at this stage appears to be of greater significance than the fact of the visit itself,” a lead editorial in the Indian Express said this week. “Suspicion of the United States dies hard in this country,” the newspaper added, but Clinton’s five-day visit should help “get past” the tensions that followed India’s 1998 nuclear tests and create a “closer understanding” between Washington and New Delhi.

U.S. officials, having abandoned hope that India will sign a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty in the near future, are planning a visit that will be short on substance but long on symbols of goodwill that may help improve the prickly relations between the two democracies, trading partners and nuclear powers.

LOS ANGELES TIMES -- MIAMI

A great-uncle of Elian Gonzalez’s who favors returning the boy to his father in Cuba has asked a federal court to grant him temporary custody of the 6-year-old.

Manuel Gonzalez should be appointed the Cuban child's temporary guardian to comply with the wishes of the child's father in Cuba, said attorney Jeffery M. Leving.

“Manuel is the one who has been designated by Juan Miguel Gonzalez. It's in the best interests of Elian,” Leving said Monday, three days after filing a motion for custody in U.S. District Court.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez is the father of Elian, the boy who survived a smuggler’s boat trip from Cardenas, Cuba, to Miami that killed his mother and 10 others who drowned when the boat sank. Since Elian was found Nov. 25 clinging to an inner tube at sea, he has been in the temporary custody of his great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, who challenged the ruling by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service that Elian be returned to his father.

Manuel Gonzalez, after a meeting with his brother Lazaro Gonzalez on Monday, spoke briefly to reporters. “I think it would be best for the boy if he were with his father,” he said in Spanish.

Juan Miguel Gonzalez asked INS officials to move Elian from Lazaro’s home to that of Manuel.