News Currents

EUROPE Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh indicated Thursday that Moscow was ready to co-sponsor a Middle East peace conference with the US. He and US Secretary of State James Baker III held talks at Kislovodsk, USSR. Bessmertnykh also said he believed the two countries were approaching a compromise on applying the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty. He said he will visit Israel in May, a strong sign Soviet diplomatic relations may be reestablished with the Jewish state.... Moscow and Bonn will sign a treaty giving Germany full ownership of a former east German uranium mine that fueled Soviet nuclear weapons for four decades. Under the deal, Moscow would surrender its 50 percent stake at no charge.... Soviet special forces have seized a bu ilding in Vilnius, the capitali of Lithuania, housing both a Lithuanian bank and a branch of the Soviet central bank, but there were no injuries reported and the banks continued functioning.

MIDDLE EAST AND GULF

As the first UN peacekeeping troops moved into place along the Kuwait-Iraq border, Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani said he and other Kurdish leaders have reached an agreement in principle with Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's government that may allow refugees to go home. Both British UN Ambassador David Hannay and US UN Ambassador Thomas Pickering adopted a wait-and-see attitude on the announcement. They al so urged Secretary-General Javier P'erez de Cu'ellar to send a large number of UN relief officials to northern Iraq so that the world body could eventually take over allied operations.... The shift of some of Saddam Hussein's duties to Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council has prompted a debate in Arab circles over whether he is losing his grip on power or simply trying to give the impressi on of a move away from autocratic rule. Some Middle East observers believe the council is trying to limit Saddam's authority.

UNITED STATES

President Bush won an important victory in the year's first major battle over the budget when the Senate killed a proposed cut in the Social Security tax.... The shuttle Discovery was cleared for blastoff Sunday on a ``star wars'' test flight.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

China said Thursday it was supplying Algeria with nuclear technology but denied it was helping it produce fuel for nuclear weapons. It also denied a report that it was supplying Pakistan with medium-range missiles.... Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Jiang Zemin will visit the Soviet Union May 15-19 for the first Sino-Soviet summit in two years.

LOOKING AHEAD

MONDAY: Canada's Stratford Festival begins in Ontario - offering classic and contemporary drama and musical theater; Anti-abortion legislation goes into effect in Utah.

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