News Currents

ECONOMY The leading indexes for 11 of the world's major industrial countries is growing at an annual rate of 1 percent, down from 4 percent six months ago, suggesting that global economic expansion will continue at a slow pace next year, according to a Conference Board survey released yesterday. Joint Economic Committee chairman Rep. Lee Hamilton (D) of Indiana called yesterday for a package of spending cuts and moderate tax increases to eliminate the federal budget deficit. Ice on the Mississippi River Wednesday forced the Coast Guard to ban nighttime barge traffic from Cairo, Ill., to the Arkansas-Louisiana border, disrupting heating oil, coal and grain shipments. In Argentina, President Carlos Menem on Wednesday signed a decree providing for the partial sale of the state-owned airlines and announced that similar decrees will be signed on Jan. 6, 1990, for the state railroads, telephone system, and electricity company.

DRUGS

President Bush is considering a Pentagon plan to station an aircraft carrier battle group and its air wing in the Caribbean Sea off of Colombia to help halt illicit drug exports, a senior administration official said Wednesday. Peru has resumed joint antidrug operations with the United States, a week after Peruvian President Alan Garcia halted the activity to protest the invasion of Panama, the US Justice Department said Wednesday. An Associated Press survey of police departments in 30 major US cities indicates a marked increase in murders in 1989. Police attribute much of the rise to drug-related violence.

EASTERN EUROPE

The East German government is considering reducing compulsory military service from 18 to 12 months and introducing a civilian alternative, Defense Minister Theodor Hoffmann said in an interview published Thursday. In Poland, Solidarity lawmakers proposed constitutional amendments Wednesday that would restore the country's prewar name of Republic of Poland and remove 19 other articles, including one declaring Poland a socialist state and another establishing the Communist Party's leading role in state affairs. In Bulgaria, the ruling Communist Party and the opposition Union of Democratic Forces agreed Wednesday to hold talks on the nation's future government. As a result, the independent trade union Support called off strikes scheduled for yesterday.

MIDDLE EAST

After a 12-year break, Egypt and Syria announced Wednesday that they have renewed diplomatic ties. Analysts say the rapprochement gives Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak greater credibility as the region's leading mediator in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Israel says Syria is no closer to making peace with the Jewish state because of the event. But one government minister said he hoped Cairo would influence Damascus to adopt more moderate policies toward Israel.

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