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Trying to break the stalemate in Middle East peace talks, leaders of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, and the Palestinians are expected to meet for an unprecedented summit today in Cairo. The peace process has been badly shaken by Muslim militants' attacks on Israelis and by Israel's continued building of settlements on land claimed by the Palestinians. The summit will also discuss the stalled negotiations between Israel and Syria, although Syrian President Assad was not invited.
Italian premier Lamberto Dini won a senate confidence vote, completing parliamentary confirmation of his nonpartisan government. The conservative bloc, headed by Dini's predecessor, Silvio Berlusconi, refrained from voting but pledged support for his programs. Dini told the Senate he expects his government to last only as long as it takes to implement key measures, including new taxes and spending cuts to pare Italy's huge deficit. Dini plans drastic cuts and changes in the nation's pension system, something Berlusconi tried but failed to do.
The Ulster Unionist Party, an important parliamentary ally of British Prime Minister Major, has threatened to bring down his government. The problem: published excerpts of British-Irish proposals for Northern Ireland, including the creation of an authority to deal with issues affecting all of Ireland. A spokesman for Major denied this would mean British-Irish ``joint authority,'' a major fear of Protestants opposed to uniting the country. After the report came out in the Times of London, Major immediately scheduled a national TV address on Northern Ireland. (Story, Page 7.)
Dutch authorities ordered the evacuation of thousands more people, as swollen rivers threatened to smash dikes and flood villages and towns across the central Netherlands. Up to 250,000 people were urged to leave low-lying areas in the southeast. Officials said the whole polder (land reclaimed from the sea) could soon flood, threatening about 40,000 people living there. Meanwhile, the Rhine River dropped somewhat, allowing cleanup work to begin in Cologne, Germany.
The first of 8,500 Cuban refugees in Panama were returned to the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The refugees were originally brought to Panama from Guantanamo because of overcrowding there, but Panama agreed to keep them only until March 6. Despite the Cubans' unwillingness to leave, no resistance was reported.
The peso and Mexican stock market rallied in reaction to Clinton's new rescue package for Mexico. After the announcement Tuesday, the peso gained 9 percent, and the stock exchange had its best one-day advance since 1988. Clinton assembled the $51 billion international package after the $40 billion in loan guarantees he proposed to Congress ran into a firestorm of criticism. (Story, Page 1.)
Peru refused to agree to a cease-fire with Ecuador, but will meet with Ecuadoran negotiators and the Rio Protocol group, who drew up the border that has been a source of contention since 1941. About 30 soldiers on both sides have been reported killed since the conflict began last week. Peru, meanwhile, has stepped up the flow of troops sent to the remote border region.
Bosnia's prime minister said he was optimistic the US will lift the arms embargo against his country but acknowledged there were no firm commitments. In testimony before the House, Haris Silajdzic accused Western nations of aiding the militarily stronger Serbs by refusing to lift the embargo. In Sarajevo, Serbs opened a key road to international charities but kept the route closed to everyone else. A convoy of UN ambulances arrived in the capital carrying sick or wounded Bosnian Muslims. THE US
The Index of Leading Economic Indicators rose 0.1 percent in December, the Commerce Department said. The gain, the 14th in 17 months, was less than many economists predicted. The index aims to predict economic activity six to nine months down the road. Meanwhile, Commerce reported that construction spending rose 2.7 percent in 1994, the strongest gain in a decade, pushed by a 1.1 percent rise in December. The reports came as the Federal Reserve Board met again to consider raising interest rates for the seventh time in a year to head off inflation. Most observers believe the Fed will raise rates.
US automakers continue to report record earnings. Ford said it earned $5.3 billion in 1994, topping General Motors' record $4.9 billion in profits. But industry growth may be slowing: Ford has added sales incentives to its new minivan and cut production at several plants to reduce dealer inventories. Rising interest rates concern analysts.