The Week Ahead: Cheerful new daily targets the young

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The Independent Online
A CHEEKY new French newspaper, InfoMatin, aimed at young, urban readers, is to hit the streets today - part of an escalating price war in France's recession-battered newspaper industry. The daily will be smaller than a tabloid and, at 3 francs (34p), cheaper than the other national dailies. It will be packed with brief articles and colour photographs.

The venture is backed by Le Monde, and will be produced on its premises. Its publishers hope it will find readers among the vast numbers of French people who read neither Le Monde nor any other national daily. The publishers hope to reach a circulation of 100,000 by the weekend and break even within three months.

It will be interesting to see how the paper covers Bill Clinton's tour of Europe this week. In Brussels today and tomorrow for the Nato summit, Mr Clinton moves on swiftly to Prague tomorrow and Wednesday to see President Vaclav Havel. He will meet his Ukrainian counterpart, Leonid Kravchuk, in Kiev on Wednesday, for talks on getting rid of Ukraine's nuclear weapons. Mr Clinton's Kiev stop, arranged at the last minute, hints at a possible nuclear-weapons agreement between the US, Russia and Ukraine.

Mr Clinton travels to Moscow on Thursday to meet Boris Yeltsin and will stay until Saturday, when he heads for the Belarus capital, Minsk, to meet President Stanislav Shushkevich. On Sunday, on his way home, Mr Clinton meets the Syrian President, Hafez al-Assad, in Geneva and is expected to urge him to co- operate fully with the inquiry into the Lockerbie bombing.

President Yeltsin will be keeping an eye on Nato's deliberations, but on Tuesday his attention will be focused on the grand opening of Russia's first freely elected parliament. The far-right leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, whose inappropriately named Liberal Democratic Party hold's the lion's share of the seats, will doubtless try to hog the limelight.

German MPs and representatives of the Lander meet on Friday for talks on the timetable and cost of moving the seat of government from Bonn to Berlin. Although Berlin was declared the capital in 1991, the parliamentary vote was close and the debate on how, and indeed whether, to transfer government ministries goes on. No date has been set and in Berlin nothing has been built. Cost lies behind the paralysing uncertainty on the matter.

Finns vote for a president on Sunday. The favourite is the Social Democrat candidate Maarti Ahtisaari, a career diplomat with limited domestic experience whose star is already fading. Other contenders are Paavo Vayrynen for the Centre Party, and the Conservative Raimo Ilaskivi.

The former Soviet republic of North Ossetia also holds presidential elections on Sunday, and so does Crimea - in defiance of Ukraine's constitution which limits Crimean autonomy.

The annual camel-wrestling festival opens in Selcuk, Turkey, on Sunday, to celebrate a traditional regional sport and boost winter tourism.