News In Brief

Israel said it sent in troop reinforcements yesterday to restore order in the occupied Gaza Strip as world criticism mounted over security measures that have killed at least 13 Palestinians. Despite the Israeli Army's attempt to contain the unrest, Arab reports said at least three Palestinians were shot and wounded and an Israeli soldier stabbed in the ninth straight day of violence in the occupied territories.

Also yesterday, Israel's parliament began debating five left-wing motions of no confidence against the coalition government's tough handling of the unrest.

Iran and Iraq report more shipping attacks

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An Iranian gunboat yesterday attacked a Greek-flagged tanker with rocket-propelled grenades in the southern Gulf. No casualties or severe damage was reported. Meanwhile, Iraq said its warplanes attacked three ships off Iran's coast in 13 hours.

Nearly 3 million tons of shipping has been sunk or written off in the Gulf since July in an escalation of attacks by Iran and Iraq, shipping analysts report. That raises the total of tonnage lost in the Gulf war to 10.86 million tons since 1981, according to statistics compiled by the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners.

Shultz says Soviets ready to debate embargo on Iran

Secretary of State Shultz said yesterday the Soviet Union has shown a new readiness to discuss a UN Security Council arms embargo against Iran. But he rejected a Soviet proposal to deploy a UN naval force in the Gulf, saying the Security Council should work first on an arms embargo resolution.

Mr. Shultz confirmed a report that the Soviet Union was demanding that the US and other Western governments accept the formation of a UN-flagged naval force to back any Security Council arms embargo against Iran.

Sugar import quota drops to 113-year low for US

The annual US sugar import quota will be further reduced by 25 percent in 1988 to a 113-year low of slightly more than 750,000 tons, the administration said Tuesday. Critics of the current US program say domestic sugar prices are kept artificially high, thus triggering greater production by American growers. That means not as much of the less expensive foreign sugar is needed each year.

Kenya and Uganda halt two-day border battles

Two days of shooting between Kenyan police and Ugandan soldiers across the border came to an abrupt end Tuesday night and the frontier was quiet yesterday. The unexplained cease-fire followed official statements by both sides denying responsibility for starting the border clashes and calling for a return to normal relations.

Bangladeshi chief offers opposition watchdog role

President Hussain Muhammad Ershad yesterday offered the opposition a role in supervising legislative elections just hours after about 30,000 people rallied in the city center to call for his ouster. President Ershad said he was willing to include two people nominated by the opposition on the country's election commission.

Opposition members, who say last year's presidential election was rigged, have said they will not take part in voting until Mr. Ershad resigns, but the President has refused.

Unrest in Haiti moves France to reduce aid

France said Tuesday it would reduce aid to Haiti because it was deeply concerned by continuing unrest in the former French territory. The French Foreign Ministry said the government had decided to cut its aid after hearing the report of a fact-finding mission that visited Port-au-Prince.

France is one of Haiti's two biggest aid donors, with 1987 contributions of $33 million. Canada provides about the same amount.

Nicaragua's Ortega calls holiday truce with contras

Nicaraguan President Ortega declared a two-day Christmas truce yesterday at the request of Miguel Cardinal Obando y Bravo and said his left-wing government would resume peace talks with the contras next week. He also said the government was sending a delegation to the Dominican Republic Monday for a second round of talks with the contras to arrange a cease-fire in the five-year-old war.

In Washington, House Speaker Jim Wright yesterday confirmed the outlines of a compromise $5 million to $6 million ``humanitarian'' aid package for the contras.

Brazil to get $3 million in deal to revive payments

Western commercial banks are giving Brazil $3 billion worth of new financing in exchange for assurances that the developing world's most indebted country will scrap a 10-month-old moratorium on interest payments. Representatives of the Brazilian government and the creditor banks said the package was part of a broader $4.5 billion refinancing arrangement and was expected to take effect in a few days.

Meanwhile, the Bank of Boston's decision to write off some third-world loans has given hope to Latin American nations seeking to lower an annual repayment burden of $30 billion, officials say.

Head of Philippine forces opposed to a holiday truce

Fidel Ramos, the Phillipines' armed forces chief, said yesterday he would oppose a communist rebel proposal for a Christmas cease-fire in the Philippines. He was referring to a statement by the communist-led National Democratic Front that it was considering a unilateral cease-fire at Christmas, an important holiday in the largely Roman Catholic Philippines.

Housing contruction rises despite US stock drop

Housing construction shot up 7.5 percent in November, the biggest increase in almost a year, the government said yesterday. The Commerce Department said that construction of new homes and apartments surged to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.64 million units last month, indicating that builders were continuing to put up new housing despite the collapse in stock prices.

The increase represented a rebound from October, when housing construction had fallen 9.6 percent.

Berkeley university plans swap with Soviet school

The University of California will trade professors, researchers, and students with Leningrad State University in the second such exchange agreement of its kind. The first such trade was undertaken in the early 1970s between Moscow State University and the State University of New York, according to Berkeley.

For the record

Hungarian Prime Minister Karoly Grosz streamlined and rejuvenated his government yesterday in a shuffle that gives more power to top a woman politician, Judit Csehak, and former Finance Minister Peter Medgyessy. Air Canada and its ground workers announced yesterday they had reached a tentative contract settlement that would end a strike which has grounded all the carrier's flights since Nov. 27.

The UN refugee agency appealed to France yesterday to take back at least three Iranian exiles expelled to Gabon a week ago, saying two were in serious condition from hunger strikes.

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