News In Brief

A team of US seismologists flew to the Soviet Union yesterday to help rebuild cities shattered by Armenia's earthquake, the Soviet news agency Tass said, as the Soviets turned their efforts from the rescue to reconstruction. But judging from official media reports, attempts by rescue teams to locate additional survivors in Leninakan, Spitak, and other northwest Armenian cities crumbled by the quake, were becoming futile.

Although there were no reports yesterday of any survivors, no official announcement has been made of an end to the search.

3 Arab protesters killed in clashes with Israelis

Soldiers shot and killed three Palestinian protesters in the Israeli-occupied territories yesterday in growing violence since the US agreed last week to talk to the PLO. The latest deaths occurred while Palestinians staged a general protest strike against the killing by troops of five demonstrators last week in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Greek government may quit if budget bill fails

Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou's Socialist government, hit by resignations and economic scandals, was scheduled to resign Sunday unless parliament passes its 1989 budget.The budget, designed to boost spending on education, health, and welfare, forecasts a deficit of $9.26 billion compared to $7.73 billion for 1988. Mr. Papandreou admitted that people close to him had tried to undermine him and he defended his government's handling of recent economic scandals. Five ministers have already resigned.

Peruvian president quits senior ruling party post

Peruvian President Alan Garc'ia resigned the post of senior leader of the ruling party Saturday in a letter than acknowledged deep divisions among the party`s militants. Mr. Garc'ia resigned the presidency of the ruling American Popular Revolutionary party after the inauguration Friday of a party congress. Diplomats said the resignation from the top post was the latest sign of Garc'ia's falling popularity amid a national economic recession marked by a soaring inflation rate.

Vanuatu prime minister arrested in power struggle

Security forces loyal to Vanuatu's ousted leader arrested the new prime minister yesterday, hours after his inauguration, radio reports said. Mr. Sope was sworn in yesterday by President George Sokomanu, who announced Friday he was dissolving Parliament and dismissing Prime Minister Walter Lini.

Mr. Lini said he would not yield power, and many in Parliament questioned whether Mr. Sokomanu's actions were constitutional.

Lebanese radicals say they hold Belgian hostage

A previously unknown Muslim radical group said yesterday it was holding Belgian doctor Jan Cools who disappeared in south Lebanon on May 21 this year. The group, calling itself ``The Soldiers of Truth,'' said in a statement it would put him on trial for spying for Western countries and Israel.

Swiss Red Cross official Peter Winkler, meanwhile, was freed Friday after being held in Lebanon since Nov. 17.

Palestinian and Lebanese security sources said Mr. Winkler was kidnapped by Palestinian guerrillas of the Fatah Revolutionary Council.

Electoral College meeting set for today

More than 48 million people cast ballots for George Bush for president six weeks ago, but the 538 who really matter will vote today. While voters on Nov. 8 may have thought they were voting for one of the presidential candidates, they really were casting their ballots for the Republican or Democratic slate of electors in their state. In state capitals around the nation today, the electors will meet to officially cast their votes. Electors are expected to vote for their party's presidential nominee and vice-presidential nominee.

Walesa holds meeting with opposition members

The leader of Poland's banned Solidarity union, Lech Walesa, and more than 100 prominent opposition members met yesterday to prepare a common platform for talks with the communist government on Poland's future. Mr. Walesa, who convened the 120 participants from across Poland, urged them to seize the initiative at the talks by proposing new ideas on the country's problems.

The meeting was the latest sign that government-opposition talks were to take place after months of wrangling over conditions.

Peres says he will talk to nonviolent Palestinians

Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said yesterday that he was prepared to hold peace talks with any Palestinians who truly renounce violence as a means of attaining their goals. ``I am ready to sit with every Palestinian who is not engaged in terror ... every Palestinian no matter what his biography used to be,'' Mr. Peres said in an interview on CBS television's ``Face the Nation.''

But Peres fell short of endorsing the US decision to start talking to the PLO.

He said it was too early to tell if PLO chairman Yasser Arafat would live up to his pledge last week to renounce terrorism.

Iran says it discovered 10-billion-barrel oil field

Iran announced yesterday it had discovered two major new oilfields, including one which Oil Minister Gholam Reza Aqazadeh described as among the richest in the country. Mr. Aqazadeh, quoted by the Iranian news agency IRNA, said the 550 square mile field southeast of Bushehr had reserves of very heavy crude estimated at 10 billion barrels.

IRNA said the second field, east of Behbahan, contained at least 200 million barrels of very light quality crude in the first of its three layers.

Tibetan students stage protest march in Peking

About 60 Tibetan students, accusing Chinese authorities of armed oppression in Tibet, protested in Peking yesterday against police killings of Buddhist monks during a demonstration. The protesters, students sent from the Himalayan region to study in Peking, said they were demanding protection of human rights in Tibet and described China's rule there as an ``invasion,'' a Western eyewitness said.

Police in Lhasa opened fire on an anti-Chinese demonstration by Buddhist monks eight days ago. China's official media said one was killed but Western witnesses put the death toll higher.

For the record

In South Korea, about 100 demonstrators, calling for the arrest of former authoritarian president Chun Doo Hwan, attacked a prosecutor's office in the southern city of Kwangju yesterday, witnesses said. A car bomb exploded as three police vans drove through the Basque town of Eibar, Spain, yesterday killing one officer and injuring six other officers and nine civilians, police said.

A mild earthquake centered in the Pacific Ocean 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, and measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook southern California Saturday, but no injury or damage was reported, officials said.

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