News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS In Jerusalem, US Secretary of State James Baker III yesterday met with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir a fourth time to negotiate specific terms that Israel could accept for a peace conference with its Arab neighbors. The secretary ended his trip to the region later yesterday.... President Bush telephoned Jordan's King Hussein Wednesday night and pledged that Washington will do all it can to reach a Middle East peace deal based on UN resolutions.... Le banon approved a treaty establishing special relations with Syria, whose troops control two-thirds of the country. The details were kept secret.... Kuwaiti opposition groups charged yesterday that human rights abuses are still taking place in the emirate. Pro-democracy liberals and Sunni Muslim fundamentalists blamed a lack of democracy for the violations.

EUROPE AND SOVIET UNION

In Belgrade, Yugoslavia's parliament and the eight-member presidency council held separate emergency sessions yesterday after the country was left without a president when the republic of Serbia blocked the election of Croatia's Stipe Mesic.... In Moscow, President Mikhail Gorbachev Wednesday made concessions on privatization and state subsidies to the Soviet Union's fractious republics in the hope of pushing through a p lan to save the economy. Meanwhile, the Soviet parliament yesterday rejected Gorbachev's nominee for deputy prime minister with responsibility for economic activity.... Germany's powerful Bundesbank president, Karl Otto Poehl, who has dominated German economic policy over the past decade, will resign in the second half of this year, Finance Minister Theo Waigel said yesterday.... Prime Minister John Major, intervening in stalled negotiations on the future of MDBONorthern Ireland, appeared to have averted a collapse of the process during talks with representatives of the main Unionist parties (Story, Page 6).

ENVIRONMENT

The Canadian Department of Fisheries loosened restrictions on seal hunting Wednesday to help ensure the survival of the industry. Seal hunting is now restricted to the killing of adult animals by fishermen in small boats.... Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel Company Wednesday agreed to pay a record $6 million civil penalty to settle charges it violated clean-water laws at three plants in Ohio. The US government sued the steelmaker for discharging exces sive amounts of chrome, lead, ammonia, zinc, oil, and grease into the Ohio River.... Vietnamese Prime Minister Do Muoi, concerned about his country's dwindling forests, yesterday ordered a cutback in exports of timber and other wood products.

LOOKING AHEAD

Sunday: Start of World Trade Week, by presidential proclamation.... Wednesday: Tentative date for US House of Representatives to vote on US-Mexico free-trade bill.... Thursday: April US Import and Export Price Index will be released by Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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