News Currents

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC Italian-born Sonia Gandhi declined yesterday an offer to succeed her assassinated husband, Rajiv Gandhi, as leader of India's dominant Congress party. (See story p. 6) Sri Lanka pledged yesterday to help India investigate the murder of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. A Sri Lankan Tamil rebel group is among those suspected in the bombing which killed Gandhi Tuesday night.... China said yesterday that prison-made goods may have been exported to the US, but insisted it was not official policy. Charges that China is using prison labor to swell its already huge trade surplus with the US has inflamed debate in Washington over whether to renew for another year China's most-favored-nation trade status.... The South Korean government, hoping to shore up national harmony, said yesterday it will grant special pardons this weekend for 258 people convicted or indicted on charges of violating the Nation al Security Law.

EUROPE

Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev said in Moscow he needs $100 billion from the West to save perestroika, arguing it is a price worth paying to salvage his reforms. He also continued to press for an invitation to a coming meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized nations and said he is sending a key aide, Yevgeny Primakov, to Washington to discuss the economic problems and a possible expansion of ties with the G-7 nations. He also jes ted that even if he isn't invited to the G-7 meeting, he will say what needs to be said.... Embattled Yugoslav Prime Minister Ante Markovic left yesterday on a two-day visit to France for talks with his French counterpart, Edith Cresson, and President Fran,cois Mitterrand. The reformed communist is regarded by the West as the only Yugoslav politician with the ability to keep the country together by implementing economic reforms designed to bind the rival republics i n a unified market.... Documents show the former East German Communist authorities had taken away children of dissidents and had them adopted without the parents' approval, Berlin officials said yesterday.

OTHER WORLD NEWS

The right-wing South African Conservative Party yesterday upped its majority by 1,188 votes in a provincial town by-election in Ladybrand and demanded a general election, saying it had the support of most white voters in the country.... A column of some 80 suspected Shining Path rebels have shot and killed an Australian nun and four local officials execution-style in a central Andes Mountains town in Peru, police said.... US Secretary of State James Baker III told Congress he believes there is no ``bigger obstacle to peace'' in the Middle East than continuing Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

LOOKING AHEAD

Sunday: The Indy 500 race in Indianapolis. Tuesday: International Whaling Commission begins five-day session in Reykjavik, Iceland.

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