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U.S., China sign trade agreement

U.S. and Chinese negotiators Saturday signed a sweeping trade agreement that would phase out most Chinese import licenses, quotas and other controls that keep U.S.-made goods from the Chinese market of 1.2-billion people, U.S. trade officials announced. Negotiators had reached agreement in principle late Friday but it was not made final until Saturday after the Chinese delegation had conferred with higher authorities in Beijing. The agreement averted a multibillion-dollar U.S.-China trade war that might have cost U.S. importers and exporters thousands of jobs and might have blunted China's drive to become a major trade power. Under the new agreement, the United States should be able to sell China more goods such as computers, chemicals, machinery, auto parts and agricultural products and thereby reduce a growing trade deficit with the Chinese that threatens to reach more than $17-billion this year.

Anti-Columbus runners finish trek

TEOTIHUACAN, Mexico _ Five hundred Indian runners, one for each year since Columbus landed, sped over the last dusty miles Saturday of a 14,000-mile run billed as a "voyage of rediscovery." Some 230 runners set out in May from Alaska, covering 9,950 miles, and 270 others from Peru in August, running 4,635 miles. The North American group arrived at midday before the ancient Aztec pyramids of Teotihuacan, 30 miles north of Mexico City. The South American contingent was reported within a mile of the pyramids late Saturday. The runners said they were trying to show Christopher Columbus was more destroyer than discoverer. Meanwhile, in Colombia, dozens of Indians and peasants who tried to block the Pan American Highway outside Popayan, 70 miles south of Cali, in a Columbus Day protest were beaten, detained or reported missing after the army intervened, an Indian organization spokesman said Saturday. Army and presidential officials could not be reached for comment.

BAGHDAD, Iraq _ Iraqi Oil Minister Usama Abdul-Razzakal-Hiti said Saturday that Baghdad would sue foreign banks if they use Iraqi oil money seized by the U.N. Security Council. The council voted last week to seize about $1-billion of Iraqi oil money abroad to compensate victims of Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and pay for U.N. operations to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The seized revenues also will be used to pay for humanitarian aid to dissident Kurds and Shiites in Iraq and to meet other U.N. expenses in the country. Most of Iraq's oil money is held in the United States.

Argentina won't let plutonium ship pass

BUENOS AIRES _ Argentina said Saturday it would not allow a ship carrying 1.7 tons of plutonium from France to Japan to pass through its territorial waters. The Greenpeace environmental group says even a small leak of plutonium, which Japan wants for its nuclear energy program, could cause thousands of deaths from lung cancer and contaminate sea or land for tens of thousands of years. The ship has been banned from the Panama Canal and other seaways. The Argentine ban closes one of the few remaining alternatives _ passage through the Magellan Straits.

Briefly . . .

YAOUNDE, Cameroon _ Tens of thousands of people jammed the streets of the capital Saturday in separate rallies for President Paul Biya and for six opposition candidates on the eve of the country's first democratic presidential election. Sixteen observers from the Washington, D.C.,-based National Democratic Institute were to monitor eight sites.

Elsewhere . . .

LIMA, Peru _ Military judges denied Shining Path mastermind Abimael Guzman's appeal of a life sentence and then maneuvered to prevent him from lodging another protest, Guzman's attorney said Saturday. Guzman was convicted of treason Wednesday by hooded judges in a closed trial on a heavily guarded island. He was sentenced to life in prison for running the hemisphere's most deadly insurgency for the past 12 years.

LUANDA, Angola _ Angolans must wait until at least Wednesday for results of their first democratic elections Sept. 29-30, National Electoral Council officials said, so they can investigate fraud claims by the former rebel group UNITA, which partial returns showed was losing. UNITA officials have threatened to resume fighting if they feel cheated.

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands _ Officials lowered the death toll in the El Al plane crash to 80 from 120 on Saturday after others thought to have been killed called a missing-persons hot line, officials said. Search parties recovered sections of the jet engine thought to have triggered the crash Oct. 4, the Transport Ministry said. An engine caught fire minutes after takeoff, and the Boeing 747-200 cargo plane smashed into a 10-story apartment building. Authorities initially thought 250 people were killed.