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Envoy is optimistic about Mideast truce



Published: Sun, January 6, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Envoy is optimisticabout Mideast truce

JERICHO, West Bank -- A U.S. envoy was hopeful Saturday he could guide Israelis and Palestinians toward a truce, after Israel said it would further ease West Bank blockades and the Palestinians continued to arrest suspected militants.

In Washington, meanwhile, a U.S. official raised the possibility that a 50-ton weapons shipment intercepted by Israel was intended for Hezbollah, Hamas or another extremist group, rather than for the Palestinian Authority, as Israel claimed.

Israel's army chief announced the seizure Friday, but did not present evidence for his claim that the Palestinian Authority was behind the smuggling attempt. The Palestinian Authority denied any links to the shipment, which included Iranian-made rockets and anti-tank missiles.

The U.S. envoy, Anthony Zinni, met Saturday with Palestinian negotiators and said he would chair a meeting today of Israeli and Palestinian security officials.

Turner's bison burgers

ATLANTA -- Billionaire media entrepreneur and rancher Ted Turner is hoping to create a new empire: a restaurant chain featuring 25 versions of the bison burger.

The first Ted's Montana Grill opens in Columbus, Ohio, in mid-January with a menu offering bison with avocado, bison with jalapenos and even bison with fried eggs, cheese, ham, bacon and mushrooms.

The 63-year-old Turner is considered the nation's largest bison rancher, with 30,000 animals -- a tenth of the U.S. herd -- scattered on 1.75 million acres in the West.

Deficit tops $11B

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- Congress debated a crucial currency devaluation Saturday after getting fresh proof of the calamitous state of Argentina's finances -- word that the budget deficit for 2001 will top $11 billion.

As late as November, the previous government was predicting a deficit of $7.8 billion -- already well above the $6.5 billion target agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund last August in return for $8 billion in emergency aid.

Ice breaks, trailers sink

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Nearly a dozen large trailers parked on Big Detroit Lake for a snowmobile race sank into the water Saturday when the ice was weakened by mild temperatures.

There were no injuries, but some trailers and the equipment inside were completely submerged in the northwestern Minnesota lake.

"It's a terrible situation, especially for the racers," Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said. "We've got a lot of dollars in the water."

U.S. suspends funding

WASHINGTON -- The United States has suspended funding for the leading Iraqi opposition group, citing poor bookkeeping, the State Department said Saturday.

Some consider the group a key to any effort to topple Saddam Hussein, but it has been criticized as ineffective, unorganized and without a capable fighting force.

The State Department informed the Iraqi National Congress this week that the suspension would be in effect "until adequate financial controls are in place."

Associated Press




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