Russia

MOSCOW - Russia is moving closer toward acquiring a multi-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund - a deal that aims to stabilize the country's sinking financial markets.

MOSCOW - Russian parliament will approve most of the austerity measures proposed by the government for tackling a financial crisis but a "hot" autumn of social tensions is looming, a senior parliamentarian said on Wednesday.

Taiwan

TAIPEI - Taipei on Wednesday welcomed the irritation shown by U.S. lawmakers over President Bill Clinton's comments that Washington did not support independence for Taiwan - a stand that pleased China but troubled the democratic island.

France

PARIS - Americans can still try to buy the Brooklyn Bridge but they will never be able to purchase the Eiffel Tower, France made clear on Wednes-day. General Motors had expressed a desire to buy the French government's share of the structure.

Israel

JERUSALEM - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held inconclusive talks with senior cabinet ministers on Wednesday on a U.S. plan for an Israeli handover of more West Bank land to the Palestinians, an official said.

South Africa

CAPE TOWN - South Africa has no way of knowing if the secrets of its apartheid era chemical warfare program are safe under lock and key or ready for sale to the highest bidder, the Truth Commission heard on Wednesday.

Japan

NAGOYA, Japan - Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto vowed on Wednesday to seek tax cuts in a permanent overhaul of Japan's tax system but disappointed financial markets by offering no details.

Puerto Rico

SAN JUAN - Rampaging teenagers smashed shop windows and hurled bottles and cans at police early Wednesday, apparently inspired by a huge strike against the sale of the state telephone company.

Thailand

BANGKOK - At least 112 people have committed suicide in the year since an economic crisis erupted in Thai-land, according to a government agency.

Mexico

METZTITLAN - A candle apparently sparked a fire in one of Latin America's oldest churches, destroying a 17th-century painting revered by Catholic faithful.

Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya - More than 700 malnourished children have been left without food after fighting between rebels and government troops forced aid workers to evacuate a town in southern Sudan, a relief organization said.

Slovakia

BRATISLAVA - The United States ambassador to Slovakia stepped up his calls on the Slovak government to change a new election law which he said "may jeopardize free and fair parliamentary elections in September."

Indonesia

JAKARTA - Indonesian soldiers moved to cool off pro-independence demonstrations in Irian Jaya province on Wednesday by removing a protest rallying point - a flag pole.

Philippines

MANILA - At least six people were wounded on Wednesday when a small bomb exploded in a public toilet at a Manila shopping mall, police said.