News In Brief

The South African government gave its permission for black leader Nelson Mandela to see his lawyers today amid mounting speculation that he will be freed, his wife said yesterday. In the past few days the local press has reported speculation that Mr. Mandela, jailed for life in 1964 for sabotage and plotting revolution, would shortly be freed by the Pretoria government.

Philippine leftist says truce possible with a new regime

Underground Philippine leftist leader Antonio Zumel said yesterday that communist guerrillas battling the government of President Ferdinand Marcos would consider a truce if a new administration took office after elections in February. Mr. Zumel, believed to be the chairman of the illegal National Democratic Front -- an umbrella organization of leftist groups -- did not raise the possibility of a truce with a Marcos-headed government should Mr. Marcos win.

Also Thursday, President Marcos swore in Ram'on C. Aquino as the country new chief justice, bypassing for the second time a more senior justice who had been critical of his government. Mr. Aquino is no relation to slain opposition leader Benigno Aquino.

Romanian acrobat detained by US did not want to defect

A Romanian acrobat, detained by US immigration officials shortly before he was to board a flight to West Germany because of a report by a woman who said she was his fianc'ee, did not want to defect and was to fly out of New York last night. Andi Georgescu was put under guard at an undisclosed location in New York. He was interviewed by US agents yesterday to determine whether he wanted to apply for political asylum.

Soviet spacecraft returns early for a hospital call

A Soyuz spacecraft carrying three Soviet cosmonauts made an unscheduled return to Earth yesterday because its commander was ill and needed hospital treatment, the official news agency Tass said. Vladimir Vasyutin, who was making his first flight mission, landed in his Soyuz T-14 craft after spending 65 days in space conducting scientific experiments.

House-Senate team hopes for budget-cut plan today

House and Senate negotiators hope to reach an agreement today on a sweeping plan for cuts on defense and social spending to balance the budget over the next five or six years, Senate sources said yesterday. The negotiators have been meeting privately and have reportedly been making progress on major differences in a Republican-led Senate bill proposing a balanced budget by 1991 and a Democrat-led House plan to end deficits a year earlier.

US group praises Jackson for Gorbachev encounter

The American Jewish Congress, which has been a harsh critic of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in the past, issued a statement late Wednesday praising him for bringing the issue of Soviet Jewry before Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. The Rev. Mr. Jackson met briefly with Mr. Gorbachev Tuesday in Geneva, where the Soviet leader was meeting President Reagan. He told Gorbachev that there was ``great anxiety among the American people about the plight of Soviet Jews'' and that trust between the two countries would be improved if that anxiety was eliminated.

Gulf Coast residents prepare for Kate, 4th '85 hurricane

Hurricane Kate moved steadily northward through the Gulf of Mexico yesterday and 87,000 Florida Panhandle residents were ordered to evacuate inland from the storm, whose 110 m.p.h. winds and tidal surges have been blamed for causing up to 10 deaths in Cuba. About 2,200 people were evacuated Wednesday from Grand Isle, La., and coastal residents in Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi were preparing for a possible fourth Gulf Coast onslaught this year.

PLO affirms rejection of Israel's right to exist

Leaders of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who met yesterday in lengthy sessions of the PLO Executive Committee, affirmed their rejection of the two key UN resolutions on Middle East peace which assert Israel's right to exist. The PLO previously rejected UN Resolutions 242 and 338 on grounds that they do not assert a Palestinian right to self-determination, asking only for a ``just settlement of the refugee problem.''

Papua New Guinea ousts its first prime minister

Prime Minister Michael Somare lost a no-confidence vote in Parliament Thursday, 57 to 52, and was ousted from the leadership of this Pacific island nation. The lawmakers chose Paias Wingti to succeed Somare. Mr. Wingti announced Thursday that he would form a five-party coalition to run the nation.

Militia wars in Beirut delay word from a British envoy

A blazing new round of ``flag wars'' between Muslim militias trapped British church envoy Terry Waite in a news agency bureau yesterday, delaying a press conference on his freedom mission for Western hostages. The fighting, between the Shiite Muslim militia Amal and the Druze-led Progressive Socialist Party, erupted after squabbles over Lebanon's national flag and intensified during the afternoon.

Mr. Waite said the clashes made it impossible to leave the agency office and reach a hotel one block away, where journalists were waiting for him.

Pact on nuclear know-how with China backed by Senate

The Senate approved yesterday a long-delayed agreement providing for nuclear technology cooperation between the US and China. The agreement permits the sale of American reactors and other technology wanted by China for its civilian nuclear power program. It was tentatively worked out during President Reagan's trip to China last year, but more negotiations followed in an effort to meet congressional concern that the agreement lacked adequate safeguards to ensure that the information and materials were not used to make atomic weapons.

House panel backs cutback on time banks hold checks

The House Banking Committee endorsed legislation that would impose tight deadlines on how long banks may hold deposited checks before making the money available to their customers.

Leathernecks returning to motorcycles for combat

Forty years after the last combat marine used a motorcycle, the corps has signed a contract to return the two-wheelers to active duty. Next January, the Marines will begin receiving the first of 186 Kawasaki KLR-250 motorcyles -- a lightweight cycle that can navigate steep inclines and operate over rough terrain.

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