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White House tight-lipped over Monica 'kiss'

THE White House is ready to admit that President Clinton had a physical relationship with Monica Lewinsky, America's television networks said yesterday, quoting "well-placed sources".

The reports, which insist the relationship went "no further than kissing" fuelled suggestions that the White House is preparing to revise its account of the Clinton-Lewinsky relationship. Mr Clinton was described in the reports as being distressed about the allegations, blaming himself and worrying about the effect on his family.

The first report embarrassed official Washington and revived the original question: did President Clinton have an affair with the White House trainee and tell her to lie about it? Although both Mr Clinton and Ms Lewinsky have insisted under oath that there was no affair, Ms Lewinsky has been taped saying she and Mr Clinton had a sexual relationship.

The new White House version, according to CBS, is that Ms Lewinsky's claims are no more than girlish exaggeration among friends.

With the Washington machine decamped to Utah where the Clintons were celebrating Chelsea Clinton's 18th birthday, it was a full 24 hours before the official rebuttal came, and it was less than comprehensive. "The White House has no new strategy that we are about to unveil," the deputy spokesman, Joe Lockhart, finally told the cable channel, CNN. He called the CBS report as "inaccurate".

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