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Mondale picked as Tokyo ambassador

President Clinton signaled his determination to improve the nation's "often-troubled economic relationship" with Japan on Friday by tapping former Vice President Walter Mondale to be ambassador to Tokyo. The announcement came on the same day that U.S. and Japanese negotiators were sitting down in Washington to work out the framework for talks on reducing the trade imbalance. Mondale, 65, is a former senator and was Jimmy Carter's vice president.

GOP wants inquiry

of travel firings

Senate and House GOP leaders Friday called for congressional investigations or special prosecutor investigations of the Clinton administration's firing of the seven employees of its travel office. But the White House said it will rely on its internal review to determine the facts. Senate Minority Leader Bob Dole, R-Kan., renewed his criticism of the administration after a report in the Washington Post on Thursday that a White House lawyer raised the possibility of using the Internal Revenue Service to investigate alleged travel office wrongdoing. The White House denied anyone there directly contacted the IRS.

Cheaper plans for space station urged

The two cheaper options for a space station are the "most deserving of further consideration," a presidentially appointed panel said Friday. In a report delivered to the White House, the committee said that although NASA was unable to redesign the space station within the spending targets set by President Clinton, its team did find major cost savings for the project. The group preferred options designated A and C by NASA. Option A uses much of the equipment and general design that had been developed for Space Station Freedom. It would cost $12.8-billion over five years. Option C, the report said, is the cheapest and least risky. Its estimated cost is $11.9-billion over five years.

Briefly ...

New Guatemala ambassador: Foreign service officer Marilyn McAfee was sworn in Friday as U.S. ambassador to Guatemala, becoming the first female career diplomat to head a U.S. mission in Latin America.