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World in brief

U.S., Russia negotiate nuclear arsenal cut MOSCOW – The United States and Russia announced Monday that they hope to complete a deal slashing their nuclear arsenals by the time President Bush visits Russia in the first half of next year.

The two countries also agreed that the cuts would be described in a written document, a more formal arrangement than Bush had envisioned.

The announcement came after two hours of talks at the Kremlin between Secretary of State Colin Powell and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Afterward, both sides said they were closer to an arms reduction package, but sharp disagreement persisted over Bush’s plans to test and build a system to protect the United States and its troops and allies from a small number of intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Monday was the first time that the two countries had put a deadline on their plans to begin radically restructuring their Cold War nuclear arsenals. The pact would eliminate more than 7,000 nuclear warheads from the combined arsenals, leaving each side with about 2,000.Business strike shuts down VenezuelaCARACAS, Venezuela – Thousands of Venezuelan businesses closed Monday and millions of people stayed home from work in a nationwide strike against new laws that critics say stifle investment.

President Hugo Chavez responded by calling out troops to patrol the tense streets and condemning “corrupt economic elites” he said were behind the strike. He also accused them of conspiring with his political opponents to overthrow the government.

The 12-hour business strike appeared to further polarize politics in Venezuela, the United States’ fourth-largest trade partner in the Americas and No. 3 supplier of oil. Domestic production was at a near standstill, though oil production and exports were unaffected.

The strike was called by Fedecamaras, Venezuela’s biggest business confederation, whose affiliates are responsible for 90 percent of Venezuela’s non-oil production.United Nations, Annan collect Nobel Peace PrizeOSLO, Norway – Saying the world “entered the third millennium through a gate of fire” ignited on Sept. 11, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan accepted the centennial Nobel Peace Prize on Monday with a call for humanity to fight poverty, ignorance and disease.

Annan said the terrorist attacks in the United States showed that “new threats make no distinction between races, nations or regions.” The world now has “a deeper awareness of the bonds that bind us all – in pain and in prosperity,” he said.

Annan shared the prize with the United Nations as a whole.

The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee presented the $950,000 prize, which includes diplomas and gold medals, to Annan and the president of the U.N. General Assembly, South Korean Foreign Minister Han Seung-soo, representing the world body.Tibetan exile leader warns struggle may turn violentDHARMSALA, India – A Tibetan leader warned Monday that his people’s freedom struggle could turn violent if the issue of Chinese occupation of Tibet is not resolved before the Dalai Lama dies.

“It is only our devotion to His Holiness and his influence and his teaching that prevents any Tibetan individual from indulging in violence,” said Samdhong Rinpoche, who is the prime minister of Tibet’s government in exile.

Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950, taking control of a region Beijing says has been a part of China for centuries. The Dalai Lama, who is 66, founded the government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharmsala in 1960, a year after fleeing Tibet following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Samdhong told a news conference that his government was in the process of making a formal approach to Beijing and he hoped to initiate a dialogue soon.

Substantive talks between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s exile government collapsed in 1993. Since then there have been sporadic contacts, most recently early this year.

Copyright 2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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