News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Tuesday that the Palestinian question would take priority in any talks on the Gulf crisis. Saddam blamed the Gulf confrontation on US and Israeli aggression.... Leaders of the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council issued a joint communiqu'e following a summit in Qatar Tuesday. The council called on Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait, and for a solution to the Palestinian problem.... Israel yesterday freed three Jewish guerrilla leaders who served less than seven years each of their life sentences for killing Palestinians in the occupied West Bank. Critics assailed the release, saying Arabs regularly served longer sentences for lesser crimes.... Israeli security forces shot and wounded 14 Palestinians in the occupied territories Tuesday, including a 13-year-old boy. Israeli radio said clashes broke out in the West Bank town of Tulkarm and the occupied Gaza Strip after soldiers searched for wanted activists in the Palestinian uprising against Israel.

EUROPE AND SOVIET UNION

In Moscow, the Congress of People's Deputies gave final approval yesterday to a complete package of significant new presidential powers requested by Mikhail Gorbachev. The government reorganization places a Cabinet and all government ministries under the president's direct control and establishes a new post of vice president (See story, Page 3).... Romania yesterday expelled its former king, Michael, and members of his family, less than 12 hours after he ended a 43-year exile to spend Christmas in his homeland. Immigration authorities ruled that he did not have an entry visa. The deposed monarch lives in Geneva.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

In Seoul, South Korea's Agency for National Security Planning said it had foiled a socialist plot to overthrow the government, the second in less than two months. The intelligence agency said 31 members of the underground Independent National Unification group had been indicted for violating the tough National Security Law, which prescribes heavy penalties, including death, for pro-communist activities.... Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu yesterday said he was postponing a decision on whether to reshuffle his Cabinet because of urgent business such as Soviet affairs and the government budget. The national budget draft for fiscal 1991, which starts next April, will be decided late tomorrow or early Saturday.

SURINAME

Radio reports from Brazil said military forces seized power in the South American nation of Suriname, ousting the civilian government. Gen. Ivan Graanoogst, acting commander of Suriname's armed forces, announced that an interim government would be formed to run the country until national elections could be held within the next 100 days.

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