News In Brief

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres recently sent Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev a message seeking improved relations, Radio Israel disclosed Sunday. In his message to Gorbachev, conveyed by World Jewish Congress leader Edgar Bronfman, Peres was said to have expressed the hope that Israel and the Soviet Union reach agreement on several unspecified issues. Saturday the Soviet Union denied a report by Radio Israel that it had approached Israel with new conditions for restoring diplomatic ties and relaxing Jewish emigration.

California relief declaration signed as wildfires contained

President Reagan declared California a disaster area to enable victims of wildfires that swept the state to qualify for federal relief funds, the White House announced Friday. The declaration also provides federal matching funds to help fight the fires and repair public facilities. The announcement came as a US Forest spokesman said firefighters had contained a huge brushfire in the Big Sur wilderness area, the last of the big California blazes.

China opens onshore areas for foreign oil exploration

China will open vast areas of the western interior to oil exploration by foreign firms, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily reported yesterday. It quoted General Manager Song Zhenming of the China Oil Development Corp. as saying 19 companies -- not identified -- from the US, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, West Germany, the Netherlands and Romania have been invited to survey oil resources in Xinjiang, Shaanxi, Gansu, Ningxia and Sichuan provinces.

US offers $100,000 reward in El Salvador slayings

The US government offered a reward of up to $100,000 for information leading to the prosecution and punishment of the killers of six Americans in San Salvador on June 19. Friday's offer was the first time a 1984 law authorizing the payment of rewards in alleged terrorist cases had been invoked. The State Department announcement followed a US charge Thursday that Nicaragua's Sandinista government might be involved in preparations for terrorist attacks on US personnel in Honduras.

Italy checks dams for safety as rescue efforts continue

The collapse of a dam in northern Italy Friday could spur the Italian government into closer checks on thousands of dams throughout the country, Gianluca del Bono, an official with the National Geological Inspectorate, said Sunday. Officials said a retaining wall of an earthen dam, which kept in place two artificial lakes used to filter industrial wastes, collapsed Friday. It sent a 150-foot wide wall of water through the village of Stava.

Rescue workers using bulldozers and trained dogs reported Saturday they had found 19 survivors. A Red Cross statement released Saturday in Geneva put the death toll at 250.

Offers of help have poured in from around the world, including governments in the United States, France, Britain, West Germany, and Japan.

Nicaragua marks anniversary -- with verbal attacks on US

Nicaragua celebrated the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution last weekend. Ceremonies centered around a speech by President Daniel Ortega, who called on his countrymen to resist ``US terrorism.'' Ortega also ridiculed US charges accusing Nicaragua of planning terrorist attacks on US personnel in Honduras. Saturday President Ortega called for the US to withdraw from the Organization of American States. He recommended that, if the US refuses, Latin American nations should form an ``independent'' organization that excludes the US.

Jury acquits corporation in Great Adventure fires

A jury acquitted Great Adventure amusement park and its parent company, Six Flags Corp., of manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter Saturday in the deaths of eight teen-agers in a haunted-house fire on May 11, 1984. It was the first time in New Jersey that a corporation was tried on charges of criminal behavior that resulted in deaths.

OAU economic summit ends with pledges to aid farming

African leaders pledged to work together to prevent the financial collapse of their nations as the economic summit of the Organization of African Unity ended Saturday. The summit adopted a five-year plan to deal with the continent's economic crisis, called for an international conference on Africa's foreign debt, and pledged to increase public investment in agriculture by 20 to 25 percent by the end of the decade.

Probe completed on Air India jet crash box, US experts say

Scientists probing last month's Air India plane crash have finished analyzing the cockpit voice and flight-data recorders and will now turn to the wreckage for clues as to what caused the accident, US experts said Saturday. The US experts have said it is too soon to say what caused the crash, although a senior Indian scientist said earlier last week that frequency analysis of the noises on the voice recorder indicated a midair blast.

Indian officials have not ruled out sabotage. Two militant Sikh groups are reported to have claimed responsibility for blowing up the plane.

Workers strike Pittsburgh-Wheeling Steel Corporation

Some 8,000 members of the United Steelworkers of America went on strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday against Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp., after contract negotiations broke down Saturday evening. It was the nation's first major steel walkout since 1959. The Pittsburgh-based firm filed for protection from its creditors under the US Bankruptcy Code in April, and last week a bankruptcy court gave it permission to void its union contract. Wheeling-Pittsburgh said it needs union wage and benefit concessions to survive.

Alaska senators meet to weigh impeaching governor

State senators are meeting today to consider impeaching Gov. Bill Sheffield for his role in negotiating a state office lease. The special impeachment session was called after a grand jury recommended July 2 that the legislature consider removing the governor from office. The five-member Senate Rules Committee will conduct the initial hearings, expected to last from three weeks to a month. But all 20 senators will be sitting at the conference table, and they will be free to question witnesses and examine evidence -- as will members of Mr. Sheffield's legal team.

Martial law ends in Ankara, continues in southeast Turkey

Turkish authorities lifted martial law in Ankara Friday after 61/2 years, but they showed no sign of ending it in the southeast of the country, where Kurdish rebels skirmish almost daily with troops. Ankara was one of six provinces where martial law was ended this evening by order of parliament after a recommendation by the National Security Council, a joint military-civilian body, an official statement said.

Decker Slaney outruns Budd in their Olympic rematch

Mary Slaney led from start to finish Saturday to beat Zola Budd in their first race since they collided last year at the Los Angeles Olympics. In an IAAF-Mobil grand prix meet at London's Crystal Palace stadium, the former Mary Decker set the fastest 3,000-meter time in the world this year, cruising home by 20 meters to win in 8 minutes, 32.71 seconds.

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