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Leaders Have Special Needs

Some business travelers request a fruit basket in their hotel rooms. A well-stocked bar is always nice, and, of course, a rich piece of chocolate left on the pillow is a pleasant surprise.

Denver is discovering world leaders want more.

At the Westin Tabor Center, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl asked that his room include a piano.

At the Hyatt Regency, gardeners installed a planter full of live flowers for Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin’s room at the Embassy Suites was completely remodeled, adding $57,000 in furniture, including a burgundy leather executive chair, mahogany desk and hand-tied Persian run.

As for President Clinton’s digs at the Brown Palace, the White House wasn’t releasing details, although aides allowed that, these days, he travels with his own physical therapy equipment. The president is recovering from knee surgery after a stumble three months ago.

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When Clinton and Yeltsin sat down for their one-on-one meeting, it was Yeltsin who settled into the armchair in front of America’s Stars and Stripes, while the Russian flag stood behind Clinton.

And, it was Yeltsin who got the star treatment from locals.

It’s well-known around town that Clinton is bunking at the Brown Palace, so only a smattering of gawkers were hanging around when Yeltsin arrived.

But as word spread that the boisterous Russian was spotted, the lunch time crowd swelled to about 600, leading security-minded police to push barricades a half-block farther from the hotel entrance.

He emerged an hour later to screams of “Boris! Boris!” Twelve-year-old Behrang Harsini, who hopes to be a heart surgeon, pronounced it “really neat” to see the Russian president, and smiled as he recalled Yeltsin’s recent heart trouble.

“Maybe when I grow up, I’ll get to treat Yeltsin - if he’s still alive.”

The asphalt curtain

Littered by orange cones, yellow police tape and barricades, Denver looks like a city under siege.

Security arrangements have snarled traffic - several miles of a key downtown artery were to be shut down today so the VIPs could get to dinner - and air space restrictions mean local traffic reporters can’t get their helicopters close enough to the city to spy rush-hour trouble spots.

Didn’t really matter. “Nothing’s moving anyway,” one reporter cracked Friday morning.

State transportation officials were planning to close much of southbound Interstate 25 for about two hours today, so that the world leaders and their motorcades could get to the Fort restaurant outside Denver.

Iranian dissidents seek help

Outside the state Capitol, and later at the Denver Public Library, more than 1,000 flag-waving Iranian resistance supporters urged summit leaders to impose economic sanctions to help establish democracy in Iran.

During a four-hour rally where temperatures crept into the 90s, National Council of Resistance of Iran officials also renewed demands for European countries to cut off diplomatic ties to Iran.

“All international bodies, and specifically the Summit of the Eight, must institute economic and political sanctions against the clerical regime so as not to allow the ruling dictatorship to take advantage of its economic ties to suppress the Iranian people and export fundamentalism and terrorism abroad,” said Sarvi Chitsaz, NCR’s U.S. representative.