News Currents

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC The Bush administration has requested no new funding for Afghan guerrillas, a sign of its recognition that an 11-year policy aimed at overthrowing Afghanistan's Soviet-backed government is outdated, the New York Times reported yesterday.... Sri Lanka's ruling United National Party claimed a landslide victory yesterday in local council elections across the country, indicating strength for President Ranasinghe Premadasa's two-year-old government.... Nepali voters flocked to the polls in Kathmandu yesterday as officials predicted a high turnout in the kingdom's first free elections in 32 years. No clear picture of the outcome is expected before Tuesday.... A typhoon stronger than the cyclone that ravaged Bangladesh two weeks ago moved toward the Philippines yesterday with winds gusting up to 171 m.p.h. Typhoon Walt could hit the country Tuesday.

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS

In Cairo, US Secretary of State James Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Alexander Bessmertnykh met yesterday in efforts to bring Israel and its Arab neighbors to the negotiating table. Baker earlier met with President Hafez al-Assad in Damascus to attempt to assuage differences between Syria and Israel. The six nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council have agreed to send an observer to the talks. Israeli Prime Minister Yitz hak Shamir continues to rule out negotiating the release of any territory and has declined to participate in a regional peace conference.... Israel barred Arabs of the occupied territories from entering Jerusalem yesterday while thousands of Jews celebrated the capture of the eastern half of the holy city from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war. Arab East Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.... Syrian Vice President Abdel-Halim Khaddam said S aturday that the only obstacle to the release of foreign hostages in Lebanon was Israel's refusal to release hundreds of Lebanese citizens.... About 400,000 Kuwaiti exiles returned to their liberated homeland Saturday.

SOVIET UNION

In a telephone conversation, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told US President George Bush his commitment to democratic reform and good relations with the US are equally firm and that he hopes for a major summit in Moscow as early as June. Gorbachev said differences over conventional armed forces could be ironed out in negotiations this week.... Russian Republic leader Boris Yeltsin said he is ready to end his personal feud with Soviet Presi dent Gorbachev to save the nation. Yeltsin told Soviet reporters that he changed his position because Gorbachev has eased his reliance on conservative forces such as the KGB security police and the Army.... Anticommunist guerrillas attacked local party headquarters in a disputed Armenian-dominated enclave of Nagorno Karabakh inside Azerbaijan. The official news agency Tass said two people, including a top Azerbaijani Communist official, were wounded in the gre nade attack.

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