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Colombian president heads to U.S. to seek trade, aid

BOGOTA, Columbia (AP) -- Colombian President Andres Pastrana left Saturday for the United States, seeking trade agreements to revive Colombia's ailing economy and possibly more money to buttress his U.S.-backed drug war.

Pastrana departed the Caribbean coastal city of Cartagena for a four-day visit that will end Tuesday with a meeting with President Bush. Though they have met before, it will be the first meeting since Bush became president.

Pastrana, who will visit Malaysia and India after Washington, also is scheduled to talk with U.S. congressional leaders, governors and trade representatives.

The trade benefits that Pastrana will seek include tariff reductions for Colombian textiles.

Pastrana also indicated he would seek more money for social programs in impoverished cocaine-producing areas where a U.S.-backed drug war is being waged. Though no specific figures have been mentioned, any new aid package is also expected to include funds for police.

Member of Egan delegation robbed of jewels in Rome

ROME (AP) -- A wealthy American philanthropist in Rome for the elevation of New York's new cardinal last week was robbed of jewelry valued at $1 million, police said Saturday.

Police were reluctant to discuss the case, an embarrassment for Rome during a week of high-profile visitors. The 44 cardinals installed Wednesday by Pope John Paul II included Archbishop Edward Egan of New York.

Many, including Egan, brought large delegations, The 850 people who accompanied him to Rome included Florence D'Urso, described as a supermarket heiress and philanthropist from New York.

News reports said D'Urso noticed that her 20-carat emerald necklace and other jewelry were missing from the safe in her suite in the five-star Hotel Regina Baglioni when she returned Wednesday night from dinner.

D'Urso is described as a generous contributor to Catholic charities who was on the board of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan.

Chief of secret police arrested by Serb authorities

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (AP) -- Serb police arrested the man who served as secret service chief for Slobodan Milosevic, police said Saturday, a move that could signal Yugoslavia's new leaders are preparing to arrest Milosevic.

Former secret service chief Rade Markovic and two unidenti-fied police officers were arrested Friday on suspicion of being behind an attempt to assassinate former opposition leader Vuk Draskovic in 1999, Justice Minister Vladan Batic said.

Draskovic, a longtime political rival of Milosevic, survived a car crash that killed four other people. Markovic faces a first-degree murder charge punishable by at least 10 years in prison and a possible death sentence, Batic said.

He suggested the arrest marked the beginning of a crackdown on allies of Milosevic, who is widely blamed by the new leaders in Yugoslavia and its dominant republic, Serbia, for widespread crime and corruption during his 13-year rule.

Markovic was one of Milosevic's closest allies and was responsible for carrying out some of his key policies. He was fired last month when the new Serb government was elected in the wake of Milosevic's fall from power in October.

Turkish leader vows steps to halt economic meltdown

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Despite growing financial turmoil, Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit brushed aside calls for an overhaul of his government Saturday, saying that sacking any ministers was "out of the question."

Ecevit called an emergency meeting of his coalition allies Saturday to discuss a financial crisis that led to an almost 40 percent devaluation of the Turkish lira.

He said his government would introduce measures Monday "to elevate the economy to a sound level," but gave no details.

Ecevit was responding to reports that the energy minister, who is widely accused of being corrupt, and the transport and communications minister, who has opposed the government's privatization program, were likely to be dismissed.

The government ended currency controls Thursday after a crisis sparked by a row between Ecevit and President Ahmet Necdet Sezer panicked foreign investors, who pulled their money out of Turkey.

The decision led to a 36 percent plunge in the Turkish lira, sparking public outrage and calls for the government to resign.

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