Great expectations

It was encouraging to read March 7 that an ``overwhelming majority of nations'' favor revitalizing the United Nations [``A `summit of summits' being proposed for UN's 40th anniversary this October'']. Even if discussions become heated at times and some delegates stomp out like spoiled children when not pleased, it is still our best hope, currently, for maintaining peace in the world.

Critics of the plan for a gathering of some 100 chiefs of state to celebrate the 40th anniversary say it would raise enormous expectations. What's wrong with that? Great expectations can provide the motivation for great accomplishments. Grace E. Behrens Lancaster, Pa.

Thank you for the articles on the African famine March 5. Of particular note are the piece by Louis Wiznitzer giving specific information on where people are seriously at risk and the Page 1 article by George Moffett presenting Africa's problems and possible solutions. Moffett quotes Rep. Mickey Leland saying, ``We have to look into the long-term solutions now.'' Later in the article he mentions that the administration has cut US support for the International Fund for Agricultural Development, a UN program which has provided funds to desperately poor African farmers. The administration's motive seems to be, as Moffett says, ``a preference for bilateral aid harnessed to specific national-security objectives,'' a.k.a. politics.

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IFAD's work has been viewed with approval by many participating nations, including the US. Indeed, it has funded effective long-term solutions to many hunger issues. It costs approximately $400 to ship a ton of grain to Africa; an IFAD-funded program, when completed, can produce that same ton of grain for half the price.

Politics can be an expensive game -- not only in terms of money, but also in human lives. If we want to end starvation in Africa, we must continue to support programs that are working effectively toward that end -- as IFAD is doing. And we must move quickly.

Fortunately, the US may get another chance. Legislation is slated to be introduced in Congress that will call for supplemental US funding for IFAD. Let's hope that this time the administration cares enough to help the poorest of the poor with an investment that lasts a lifetime -- development. Victoria L. Street Washington

Many Belgians, including ones I've talked with in their own country, have grave doubts about deploying United States nuclear-tipped cruise missiles on their soil, contrary to the Feb. 12 news story from Brussels [``Belgium is ready to bite the bullet and deploy Euro- missiles'']. There is strong public sentiment against the missiles in Belgium, a country about the size of Maryland. An independent initiative by Belgium to delay deployment would be a sign of assertiveness, not a gesture of anti-Americanism. In the long run, it would help the US learn that it simply cannot ignore the people of Europe who would be the first victims in a nuclear exchange there.

Belgian restraint would also put pressure on the Soviets to stop deploying their own intermediate-range missiles in the USSR and Eastern Europe.

Arms negotiations and independent initiatives can be mutually reinforcing. An independent act of disarmament on the part of the Belgians would break the momentum of the buildup, help create a climate of trust, and challenge the superpowers to reverse the arms race. Thomas Conrad American Friends Service Committee Philadelphia

I read the article ``Diverting Soviet rivers'' with interest and admired the maps. [International edition, Feb. 23-March 1.] However, it is wrong to state that ``Under the Siberian plan, water would be diverted from the Sukhona River . . . into the Volga . . . the Ukraine and Moldavia.'' It is the Volga plan, not the Siberian. In Siberia, as rightly shown on the map, water will be diverted south from the West Siberian rivers Ob', Irtysh, and Ishim and also Tobol to Central Asia (the Aral Sea, and the Rivers Syr and Amu-Darya), and may eventually be linked with the River Ural and the Volga by canals to stop the fall of the Caspian Sea water level. But this may not happen during this century. They have been talking about the river diversion schemes since Stalin's days. At the moment they have only just approved a scheme of diverting some water from the River Onega and the Lake Onega as the first stage. They have a long way to go before tinkering with the River Sukhona and the Lakes Lacha, Vozhe, and Kubenskoe, as rightly mentioned. The first priority goes to the Volga and the European part of the USSR. Central Asia will have to wait a long time. H. Ratnieks University of Surrey Surrey, England

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