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World Reacts To Starr Report

Newspapers around the world scrambled Saturday to print huge sections of Kenneth Starr's 445-page report on Clinton's alleged sexual misconduct, which Congress posted on the Internet Friday afternoon.

The response appeared to mirror that in the United States, ranging from calls for Clinton's ouster to full support for the president and criticism of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, who carried out the investigation.

"The report that kills," said a headline in the French tabloid Le Parisien. "Bill Clinton executed on the Internet."

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Britain's Independent newspaper, which carried a huge chunk of text, worried that U.S. leadership was in doubt.

"With Russia in crisis, NATO crying out for leadership in Kosovo, nuclear tensions high in the Indian subcontinent and economic difficulties threatening to destabilize large regions of the world, now is not the time for the leader of the world's remaining superpower to be tripping over his own trousers," the paper said.

Chilean newspapers carried long excerpts, while the story ran on the front pages in almost all Mexican dailies.

In an editorial, Mexico's La Jornada said the Clinton report "is due to a very strange combination of a strict respect for justice, a hypocritical Puritan morality and revenge by the right wing."

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Egypt's leading newspaper Al-Ahram devoted the top of Page One to the report and carried excerpts. All seven of Beirut's Arabic dailies and one English language daily gave it banner headlines and played up the 11 alleged offensives that could lead to Clinton's impeachment.

There were real concerns about the international consequences of the report.

The U.S. president "must retain his ability to govern," German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was quoted as telling the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. "It is of utmost importance that the only world power can fully take on its tasks. Asia, Africa, India - everywhere there are problems."

"I honestly do not understand the Americans," Italian industrialist Umberto Agnelli told the ANSA news agency.

"I believe that the U.S.A. has such an important responsibility towards the world that a matter of this nature should at least have been postponed," he was quoted as saying.

Feeling was particularly strong in Asia.

Calling the report "vivid nd disgusting," the major Japanese newspaper Asahi said the United States needs strong leadership now because of the Asian economic crisis, fluctuations on the U.S. stock market and the threat of terrorism against Americans.

"If this damages the credibility of American politics as well as the leadership of President Clinton, it can no longer be treated as a personal problem," said an editorial in Sunday's edition.

In an editorial, Norway's Dagsavisen newspaper said the report had been placed "in the public's full view 445 pages, and every one of them painstakingly formulated with the goal of hurting and damaging the president as much as possible. Kenneth Starr has the title of independent counsel. But his aim is political: To force the president of the United States out of his office."

Nearly all of Greece's national dailies published excerpts and the headlines went for the lurid details in many cases. Britain's biggest selling daily, The Sun, turned over its first 11 pages to the story.

Written by Audrey Woods

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