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GULF AND MIDDLE EAST

With President Bush and James Baker back in Washington, the next step in US Gulf diplomacy is to build a UN accord on permanent cease-fire demands on Iraq. Conditions might include destruction of Iraq's chemical arsenal, putting a peacekeeping force on the Iraq-Kuwaiti border, and earmarking some revenue from future Iraqi oil sales for war reparations.... Gulf diplomats report that Saudi Arabia and Iran have compromised on thorny issues over the Muslim pilgrimage, paving the way for the resumption of di plomatic ties cut in 1988 after bloody Haj riots. Iranian pilgrims, numbering 100,000, will be addressed during the Haj, due in May, by a senior imam leading the contingent from his country.... The Mujahideen-e Khalq, an Iranian dissident group, said Monday its forces killed 100 Iraqi Revolutionary Guards in battles near one of its bases 40 miles inside Iraq during the past 48 hours. The Iranian government has denied any role in the revolt sweeping Iraq.... US and other coalition generals have denied Iraq p ermission to move or use any of its military aircraft inside Iraq.... Israeli Health Minister Ehud Olmert said Sunday that Israel was ready to negotiate with Syria about the Golan Heights in a bid for peace in the Middle East.

UNITED STATES

The White House is asking Congress to authorize a government agency that would underwrite sales of military goods to NATO nations, Japan, Israel, Australia, and if the president determines it is in the national interest, to any other country.... A California condor egg hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo Sunday, bringing to 41 the number of the nearly extinct birds in the world. The youngest condor was christened Moko and weighed in at 5.5 ounces.

EUROPE

A new government in Finland seemed assured after the opposition Center Party became parliament's biggest party in elections Sunday, ending 25 years of dominance by the Social Democrats.... A Palestinian wanted for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro has been arrested in Greece and is being held in a top-security Athens prison.... The German weekly Der Spiegel reported that Daimler-Benz had sold to Iraq 20 special trucks that had been modified to serve as mobile laun ching ramps for Scud missiles.

AFRICA

Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi said Sunday his guerrillas were strong enough politically and militarily to halt their 16-year-old war against the government and seek power through the ballot box. He said his guerrillas controlled all rural areas, where the majority of the population lives.... A police forensics expert testifying at the assault and kidnap trial of Winnie Mandela found the room in which she allegedly beat four black males spattered with blood, the officer said Monday.

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