News Currents

MIDDLE EAST AND GULF Foreign aid workers in Tehran are voicing cautious optimism that the rush of more than 1 million terrified Kurds into Iran is slowing, but they worry that hundreds more refugees - especially children and older people - will die before help can reach them.... Declaring its food needs critical, Iraq has asked the UN Security Council to ease trade restrictions so it can sell nearly $1 billion worth of oil on the world market to purchase basic foodstuffs and other emergency items.... Saudi Arabia's King Fah d said that his country has decided to strengthen its armed forces in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf war and to supply its troops with the latest weaponry.... Kuwait's harbors should be clear of mines and unexploded ordnance in about a month, an Australian admiral in charge of the project said Wednesday.... Israel erected a new Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank in defiance of the US, about 36 hours before the arrival of Secretary of State James Baker III on another peace mission.

EUROPE

UN Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar said he will study whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could be brought to trial on charges of war crimes. Perez de Cuellar was asked for a legal opinion by Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jacques Poos at the request of the 12 European Community foreign ministers.... Eastern Europe could become a boom area for heroin and cocaine trafficking as more and more people are lured by the prospect of big money, said Ian Kane, chairman of the Association of Chief Polic e Officers' annual conference on drugs in Britain.... A Romanian court has rejected a request that the late Stalinist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu's son Nicu, serving a 20-year sentence for mass murder, should be freed because of ill health.... Former Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, back in his homeland after 15 years in exile in Britain, said only a nationwide general strike can remove Mikhail Gorbachev from power and end Communist rule.

UNITED STATES

A Supreme Court ruling making it harder for death-row inmates to challenge their convictions in court has been denounced by capital punishment opponents.... Palm Beach police are investigating whether Sen. Edward Kennedy and other family members deliberately avoided talking to officials following the alleged Easter weekend rape at the family's estate.

AFRICA

Rival South African anti-apartheid groups, the African National Congress and the Pan Africanist Congress, have agreed to set aside more than 30 years of animosity and work in a united front against white minority rule.... Winnie Mandela, on the stand for the first time in her assault and kidnap trial, testified that she was out of town when the crimes allegedly took place.

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