News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS Secretary of State James Baker III and Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz finally achieved direct contact yesterday in Geneva. Issues that were to be raised included: Iraq's occupation of Kuwait; Israel's 23-year occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip; control of the Gulf's oil.... As the UN deadline for Iraq to leave Kuwait approaches, President Bush has asked allies to resist pressure to provide Iraq with a face-saving way out. Bush also asked the US Congress Tuesday for a resolution supporting his use of military force against Iraq if needed.... France yesterday said it is ready to use ``all the resources of its diplomacy'' in the service of peace in the Gulf.... Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi has told the UN that food, medicine, and clothes are exempt from economic sanctions against Iraq.... A US air force F-16 crashed Tuesday, bringing to 99 the death toll among US forces deployed in Operation Desert Shield.

UNITED STATES

Government prosecutors intend to prove that years of negligence by Exxon caused the 1989 11 million gallon crude oil spill Alaska's Prince William Sound. Exxon is seeking to bar the prosecutors from using pre-spill material involving Exxon personnel policies in a trial scheduled for April 10.... In New York, Mayor David Dinkins, discussing the city's $2 million deficit Tuesday, said he would be forced to cut services ``right down to the bone'' and lay off thousands of workers.

SOVIET UNION AND THE BALTICS

In Moscow, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and Russian Republic leader Boris Yeltsin Tuesday buried their political differences and signed an economic agreement between the central government and the country's largest republic (See story, Page 5).... Lithuanian Prime Minister Kazimiera Prunskiene, an architect of her republic's independence drive, resigned Tuesday, citing irreconcilable differences with President Vytautas Landsbergis. Prunskiene resigned after Parliament voted to annul steep price increases her government imposed.... Officials from the Baltic republics vowed to lead a massive civil disobedience campaign against the Moscow's crackdown on Soviet army deserters and draft dodgers.

AFRICA

The African National Congress and South Africa's white government have agreed on all-party talks to break a deadlock over how best to negotiate a post-apartheid constitution. Meanwhile, at least two people were killed and two seriously wounded during an attack on a police station in South Africa's black tribal homeland of Bophuthatswana, residents said Wednesday.... An emergency medical team began operating to save casualties from 11 days of street battles between rebels and loyalist troops as heavily-armed looters ransacked Somalia's devastated capital Mogadishu.

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