IN BRIEF : US budget talks collapse again

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The Independent Online
Washington - Budget negotiations broke down in acrimony again yesterday, writes Rupert Cornwell. Hardline House Republicans insisted on full agreement on eliminating the federal deficit within seven years before passing a stopgap spending bill allowing 260,000 government employees to return to work.

The collapse of talks came less than 24 hours after President Bill Clinton; Newt Gingrich, the Speaker, and Bob Dole, the Senate majority leader, had agreed to begin bargaining in earnest and pass a bill that would end the second partial shutdown of the government in a month.

"These representatives want to force the government to stay closed until I accept their deep and harmful cuts [in Medicare and other programmes],'' Mr Clinton said. "The tail is wagging the dog."