News In Brief

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra said Thursday that Nicaragua will begin a search abroad for weapons. His announcement came in protest of the United States Congress's vote in favor of supplying the anti-Sandista rebels, known as contras, with ``nonlethal'' aid. Mr. Ortega said that he would end a self-imposed moratorium on the introduction of ``new arms systems'' and ``those interceptor aircraft required for the completion of the country's existent anti-craft systems.'' Ortega was asked in a press conference if Nicaragua would seek the Soviet MIG fighters or Czechoslovakian L-39 trainer jets. Ortega replied, ``We have pointed out that in Central America, only Nicaragua lacks an adequate air defense system.''

The United States has previously warned that such jets would be bombed if they arrive here.

Nicaragua is currently building an airport primarily for military use that will be able to land any kind of plane, including fighter jets. Diplomatic sources here say the military already has enough radar equipment to direct fighter aircraft.

US and European diplomats, while not ruling out the possibility of an eventual acquisition, have consistently said that Nicaragua is not likely to get MIGs anytime soon. They say shipments would likely be controlled by the Soviet Union which has appeared unwilling to supply the jets for fear of provoking the United States.

Following Ortega's announcement, a Nicaraguan official indicated he did not think Nicaragua would be supplied the aircraft unless the US escalates its involvement in the war against the Sandinistas. Acquisition ``depends on the level of aggression'' said Saul Arana, director of the Foreign Ministry's North American section. ``If the aggression increases, I think other countries would be in agreement that Nicargua needs means to defend itself.''

The moratorium which was imposed February 27, also included a promise to dismiss 100 Cuban advisers. It was at the core of what the Sandinistas called a peace initiative directed at the US. Diplomats speculated that the reversal of the moratorium was intended to throw the issue of Nicaragua's possible acquisition of the fighter jets back onto the negotiating table and give the Sandinistas more leverage in the future.

Portugal tries to resolve crisis in government

President Antonio Ramalho Eanes worked over the weekend to grapple with the crisis caused by the collapse of the country's government. He met the heads of all political parties represented in parliament, except the Social Democratic party, whose withdrawal from the government on Thursday marked the end of the coalition led by Socialist Prime Minister Mario Soares. Meanwhile the Democratic Renewal Party, a new political party formed by supporters of President Eanes, began its first convention Saturday. The party's two-day convention is expected to decide whether it should fight general elections. President Eanes is due to step down as president at the end of the year but has not yet committed himself to the party, whose members have vowed to change Portuguese politics.

Three factory managers convicted in cyanide case

The murder conviction of three former managers in the cyanide death of a factory worker will have ``far-reaching effects'' for the nation's industrial workers, a prosecutor said after winning a landmark verdict. The conviction Friday of officials of the now-defunct Film Recovery Systems Inc. sends a clear message that ``the criminal justice system will step in to protect the right of every worker,'' said State's Attorney Richard M. Daley.

The verdict came in what was believed to be the nation's first case in which corporate officials were charged with murder for the job-related death of an employee.

The charges stemmed from the February 1983 death of Stefan Golab, who prosecutors argued died of cyanide poisoning after inhaling fumes at the plant in suburban Elk Grove Village.

Pentagon removes its top auditor from federal service

The Pentagon agreed to fire its top auditor, Charles O. Starrett Jr., and demote two other Defense Department watchdogs who tried to punish an employee for exposing alleged overcharges in federal contracts. The Pentagon said Friday that following an order by the Merit Systems Protection Board, Mr. Starrett, director of the Defense Contract Audit Agency, would be removed from service effective today.

FBI traded secret information with lawyers's bar group

The FBI and a prominent lawyers's group secretly exchanged information about bar applicants for 40 years, including reports on their political beliefs and whether they took civil rights cases, according to newly disclosed FBI documents. According to an article published today in the National Law Journal, the FBI demanded that its arrangement with the National Conference of Bar Examiners be ``treated as strictly confidential.''

US-USSR to resume talks about Afghanistan

US and Soviet officials meet in Washington today to discuss their positions on the six-year war in Afghanistan. This is their first set of formal talks on the war between the Soviet-backed Kabul government and the Afghan guerrillas known as Mujahideen in three years. Meanwhile, UN-sponsored talks will resume Thursday in Geneva with Undersecretary General Diego Cordovez shuttling between Pakistani and Afghan delegations trying to work out an overall settlement.

Senior Foreign Ministry officials in Islamabad say Moscow has dropped its ``all-or-nothing'' position and agreed to consider withdrawing its 115,000 troops within the framework of a general agreement.

Iraq suspends attacks on Iran in attempt at peace

Iraq said Saturday it stopped air and missile strikes on Iranian cities despite a Friday night explosion in Baghdad which was apparently caused by an Iranian missile. President Saddam Hussein announced a 15-day moratorium on Friday. He said he wanted to give Iran a chance to consider peace, but warned that Baghdad would strike again if Iran attacked or prepared to attack his country, or if it rejected his peace initiative.

Turkish Parliament gives police more responsibility

Turkey's parliament passed a controversial bill Sunday giving police wide new powers after an appeal by Prime Minister Turgut Ozal. The bill sets out new areas of responsibility for the police including moral behavior, control of entertainment, clubs and organizations and public health.

Government and rebels clash in northern El Salvador

At least 30 government troops and leftist guerrillas were killed in some of the heaviest fighting in El Salvador in the past six months, military and rebel spokesmen said Saturday. The fighting occurred after hundreds of troops were airlifted into guerrilla-controlled areas in the northeast in an effort to scatter the rebels and destroy their camps.

Argentina circulates new currency to combat inflation

President Raul Alfons'in unveiled a new monetary unit Saturday in an effort to freeze wages and prices and stop 1,010 percent inflation. The austral (meaning southern), tied to the US dollar, is worth $1.25.

Earth tremor shakes Denmark and Sweden

The strongest earth tremor felt in Sweden this century shook the southern part of the country and parts of Denmark early Saturday, the Danish Geodetic Institute said. No casualties or serious damage were reported. The tremor, measured in Sweden at 4.2 on the open-ended Richter scale, lasted 10 to 15 seconds.

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