News In Brief

Mexico has agreed to supply Nicaragua with a small amount of oil. More than anything else, the agreement, announced late Wednesday, is a symbolic gesture of solidarity with Nicaragua in response to the United States trade embargo that began earlier this month.

The amount in question, 320,000 barrels, to be supplied on preferential terms, covers only 25 days of Nicaraguan oil needs.

It is to be delivered sometime between July and September. Some 410,000 barrels will be supplied at an unspecified future date on terms to be agreed upon later.

The accord comes within the context of a general agreement on expanded trade relations between Nicaragua and Mexico negotiated in Managua this week.

Nicaragua consumes some 12,500 barrels of oil daily, and until the end of 1983 most of that oil was supplied by Mexico.

The Mexican government's official reason for the cutoff was that Nicaragua was not able to pay the preferential prices agreed upon.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega Saavedra recently returned to Nicaragua from Eastern and Western Europe with a commitment from the Soviet Union that it would supply 80 to 90 percent of Nicaraguan oil needs.

Although Nicaragua defaulted on oil payments at a time when Mexico was going through a severe financial crisis, many academic and diplomatic analysts here feel there was more to it than that.

According to these analysts, Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid Hurtado's policy of relying on foreign and Mexican private-sector investments to end the crisis has made him extremely vulnerable to both the Reagan administration and Mexican private-sector wishes.

These analysts say that both the US and the Mexican private sectors have been strongly pressing the Mexican government to end oil shipments for some time.

The oil cutoff evoked strong criticism, however, among left-wing and labor union circles here, which form an important part of the ruling parties' power base. This criticism was exacerbated by the US trade embargo.

Kampuchean guerrillas plan single military command

Noncommunist Kampuchean (Cambodian) guerrilla factions will form a single military command to offset Khmer Rouge dominance in the coalition government of Kampuchea, guerrilla leaders said Thursday. They told journalists that in addition to acting as a military counterbalance to the Peking-backed Khmer Rouge, formation of the joint force could spur Hanoi to negotiate peace in Kampuchea.

Rome prosecutor prods Turk to explain visit to Bulgaria

Prosecutor Antonio Marini Thursday pressed a Turk accused of conspiring to kill Pope John Paul II to explain why he was in Bulgaria at the same time convicted assailant Mehmet Ali Agca was picking up a false passport. Omer Bagci, on the witness stand for a second day, insisted he had only spent a few hours in Bulgaria in late August 1980 and that he had met with no one. On Wednesday Mr. Bagci testified that he had given Mr. Agca the gun he used to shoot the Pope. Under intense questioning by Judge Severino Santiapichi, Bagci said two Turks, Mahmut Inan and Erdem Eyup, were present with him in April 1981 in Switzerland when he gave Agca the gun he used to shoot the Pope. Mr. Marini said this new evidence could lead to charges against the Turks.

Cuba says it may boost forces in Angola over Namibia snag

Cuban leader Fidel Castro warned Thursday that Cuba would reinforce its 25,000-strong military garrison in Angola if necessary because of South Africa's refusal to grant independence to Namibia (South-West Africa). President Castro reaffirmed Cuba's demands that South Africa hand over interim control of Namibia to the UN and end its support for the right-wing Angolan rebels. Meanwhile, Cuba will host a Latin American and Caribbean trade union conference in July to press for the cancellation of the region's estimated $360 billion foreign debt, Cuban labor leader Roberto Veiga announced Thursday. More than 60 unions from every country in the region had been invited, regardless of their political affiliation, Mr. Veiga said.

Index of leading indicators declined 0.2% last month

The nation's index of leading indicators registered a 0.2 percent decline last month, the first drop this year, the US Commerce Department reported Thursday. Sales of new single-family homes plummeted 12 percent. With the gross national product growing at a low 0.7 percent annual rate in the first quarter, and no sign of a quick turnaround, most private economists don't see much hope for anything over 3 percent growth for the year.

Gemayel, Assad may be near agreement on refugee camps

Presidents Amin Gemayel of Lebanon and Hafez Assad of Syria met in a third session of summit talks in Damascus Thursday amid reports that an agreement to end Beirut's refugee camp battles was imminent. Amal, the main Shiite Muslim militia, released 105 of the estimated 2,000 Palestinians it had rounded up in Beirut. It said in a statement that others will be freed gradually, but gave no details.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad (holy war) group, believed to have ties to the radical Islamic regime in Iran, claimed responsibility Wednesday for killing Denis Hill, the British professor, and for the kidnapping of David P. Jacobsen, director of the American University hospital, and Frenchmen Jean-Paul Kauffman and Michel Seurat.

Bank of Boston case increases currency reports, official says

Banks across the country have begun to report more of their cash dealings, apparently in response to the $500,000 fine levied against the Bank of Boston, federal prosecutor Patrick J. Walsh said Wednesday. The Boston bank pleaded guilty in February to failing to report $1.22 billion in currency transactions. Mr. Walsh, who headed the investigation of the Bank of Boston, said that banks in the US now file an average of 5,771 currency transaction reports daily, more than twice the number filed at the end of last year.

Egypt asks urgent UN session on Palestinians in Lebanon

Egypt called Thursday for an urgent UN Security Council meeting on the fate of Palestinians under attack in Lebanon. Egypt was working with Jordan on the request, but no date had yet been set for the meeting, Foreign Minister Esmat Abdel Meguid said. More than 300 people have been killed and 1,100 wounded in 11 days of battles for control of three refugee camps in south Beirut between Palestinian fighters and Shiite Muslim militiamen backed by Lebanon.

Britain laying a red carpet for visit by Premier Zhao

Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang starts a week-long visit to Britain on Sunday. The last obstacle to a successful visit disappeared this week with the completion of the ratification of the Sino-British pact under which Hong Kong reverts to Chinese rule in 1997. Premier Zhao, the highest-ranking Chinese visitor to Britain since 1979, is set to receive full honors including lunch with Queen Elizabeth at Buckingham Palace. The Queen has already accepted an invitation to come to China, perhaps as early as next year.

Soviets expel four Americans for contact with rights group

Four Americans have been expelled from the Soviet Union after a meeting and impromptu concert with a group of Soviet Georgian human rights activists, the US Embassy said Thursday. There was no reason given for their expulsion at time of writing, and US officials are still waiting for information from the Soviet Foreign Ministry.

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