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French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas and New Zealand Deputy Premier Geoffrey Palmer met twice this week in New York to try to resolve their countries' differences over the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, Greenpeace's flagship, by French secret agents in New Zealand July 10. France has now officially admitted its responsibility in the incident, which cost the life of one crew member. New Zealand has demanded (1) an apology, (2) compensation, (3) the arrest and transfer to New Zealand of the guilty parties who went into hiding in France.

According to reliable sources, New Zealand is unlikely to receive satisfaction on the third point (France never extradites its nationals), but will receive material compensation (in an amount yet to be determined). As for the phrasing of a public apology by France, this may be the subject of negotiations between the two countries' juridical experts for some time.

``France wants to avoid public humiliation, but at the same time it is willing to come down from its previous haughtiness and to seek to restore its image as a nation that shows consideration toward [other countries],'' one informed diplomat says.

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New Zealand expects France to make amends for the affront to its sovereignty, but inasmuch as it needs friends within the European Community, to which it sells butter and meat, it is not interested in inflating the issue out of proportion, observers here believe.

US, Japan plan to settle trade access by year-end

The US and Japan agreed yesterday to try to settle by the end of the year problems over access to Japanese markets that have contributed to a heavy trade imbalance between the two countries. The goal was set in talks between Secretary of State George Shultz and Japanese Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe as Congress and the administration headed for a battle over protectionist legislation that could badly damage US-Japanese trade. Mr. Shultz and Mr. Abe are in New York at the UN General Assembly.

Sikh moderates score big in Punjabi state elections

Sikh moderates appeared headed for an unprecedented victory over Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's Congress Party yesterday in the Punjab state elections. The Sikh Akali Dal party won two of the first four assembly races declared and was leading in 71 other races for the 115-member state legislature, election officials said.

Mr. Gandhi's Congress Party, which won the last election in 1980, won one seat and was leading in 26 races, officials said. The opposition Indian People's Party won one seat.

Communications minister leaves Cabinet in Canada

Communications Minister Marcel Masse resigned from Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's Cabinet. He said Wednesday he was stepping down because of an investigation into his election spending during last September's campaign. It is the second resignation of a senior Cabinet minister in three days. Fisheries Minister John Fraser resigned Monday after it was learned he had authorized the sale to supermarkets of tuna that had been branded unfit for human consumption by his own fisheries inspectors.

France raps US `star wars' before General Assembly

France yesterday sharply questioned President Reagan's ``star wars'' missile defense plan and called on the superpowers to bar antimissile and antisatellite weapons. In a speech to the UN General Assembly, External Relations Minister Roland Dumas also called for deep cuts in US and Soviet offensive missiles and defended France's own controversial nuclear testing program.

Kharg oil terminal attacked again; exports reported halted

Iraqi warplanes struck again at Iran's main Kharg Island oil terminal yesterday, and shipping sources said exports from the facility were halted. A military spokesman in Baghdad said the attack, the 13th Iraq has claimed since Aug. 15 and the third in three days, was ``aimed at keeping the fires caused by previous Iraqi attacks ablaze.'' He said four tons of bombs were dropped.

In Abu Dhabi, the US embassy said US vessels had been told to exercise extreme caution when entering the Gulf because of the recent intensification of the war.

Raid at dump start of a drive, Mozambican guerrillas say

Mozambican right-wing rebels said the ammunition dump they blew up in Maputo Wednesday killed more than 100 government troops and that it was the start of a sabotage campaign to show they held the military initiative in their fight to topple the Marxist-led government. Mozambican National Resistance leaders told a news conference in Lisbon they had also sought support this month in the US for their struggle to oust Mozambican President Samora Machel and introduce a Western-type democracy.

White House goes ahead with ban on Krugerrands

The Reagan administration has formally decided to ban the importation of Krugerrand gold coins as part of a package of sanctions against South Africa. Congressional sources said yesterday an announcement was expected later in the day.

Senate passes Superfund bill with tax on manufacturers

The Senate passed a $7.5 billion Superfund bill Thursday that calls for financing an expanded toxic waste cleanup effort through 1990 with a new tax on large manufacturers. The measure was sent to the House, where a $10 billion Superfund renewal bill is awaiting action by several committees and is slated for floor action the week of Oct. 14.

House kills attempt to cut price supports on sugar

The House defeated an effort to cut sugar price supports yesterday as it began consideration of a $141 billion, five-year rewrite of the nation's farm and food policy.

3 Louisiana officials indicted on payroll-padding charges

Louisiana Education Superintendent Tom Clausen was indicted yesterday on charges of malfeasance in office, payroll fraud, and obstruction of justice in an alleged payroll-padding scheme. A special parish grand jury indicted Mr. Clausen's chief aide and two other department employees on related charges.

Oil ample till mid-century, US says, but crises threaten

The world appears to have enough oil to last until the middle of the 21st century, the United States Geological Survey said Wednesday. But, it said, because most of the known and undiscovered reserves are found principally in the Middle East, Americans can expect to face several repetitions of the energy crises of the 1970. In a 25-page report, ``World Petroleum Resources,'' the government geologists said their survey of potential oil-bearing formations around the globe indicates there are none equivalent to those in the Middle East.

High school equivalency tests will include writing an essay

Beginning in 1988, adults taking the high school equivalency test will have to complete an essay along with the usual multiple-choice questions to receive a diploma.

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