News In Brief

US Secretary of State Shultz yesterday lauded Norway's plan to stop sales of secret technology to the Soviets and said congressional attempts to punish Norway would be ``unfortunate and uncalled for.'' He said his talks included a review of steps taken by Norway since the disclosure that a state-owned arms company illegally sold computers to the Soviet Union that could be put to military use.

Meanwhile, in Moscow, Soviet leader Gorbachev told his people that US-Soviet relations have improved, but said it is still too early to talk about a fundamental change.

Nicaragua postpones talks with contras again

The Nicaraguan government postponed a peace talks with the contras a second time yesterday,only hours before they were to begin yesterday, church and diplomatic sources said. They said the government wanted more time to prepare for the talks, which would have brought representatives of the two sides face to face for the first time.

Reports of shipping hits trickle out from the Gulf

An Iranian frigate attacked two Greek tankers in the southern Gulf last week, causing minor damage and no injuries, Lloyd's Shipping Intelligence Unit reported yesterday. There are, however, conflicting reports on the death toll aboard a third vessel, a Norwegian tanker that was hit earlier in the week by the Iraqis in Iranian waters.

Philippines is a shield, Aquino tells neighbors

President Aquino opened the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit meeting yesterday with a lecture to her neighbor nations on the key role the Philippines plays in their security because of US bases on its soil. Mrs. Aquino made no direct reference to the huge air and naval bases maintained by the US north of Manila, but she made it clear she believed their presence was one of the most significant factors in regional security.

Israelis kill Palestinian during Gaza Strip protest

One Palestinian demonstrator was killed yesterday by Israeli troops, and another wounded protester died as well in the sixth straight day of anti-Israeli violence in the occupied Gaza Strip, Israeli Army and Palestinian sources said. Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied West Bank said at least eight demonstrators died and scores were wounded the unrest that erupted after four Gaza laborers were killed in the collision of an Israeli Army truck and two other vehicles.

US, Israel sign agreement to strengthen relations

The US and Israel signed a new memorandum of understanding yesterday designed to strengthen ties between the two countries in the areas of military research and arms procurement. The new pact, signed by Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci and Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin, was negotiated after Congress voted last year to treat five countries, including Israel, as ``major non-NATO allies'' eligible to participate in research and programs undertaken with the European allies.

House arrest is over for Indian Sikh leader

The leader of India's 14 million Sikhs was freed from 10 days' house arrest Sunday. Authorities withdrew the detention order against Darshan Singh Ragi because ``his detention is no longer necessary,'' the Patiala district magistrate said in a statement. Mr. Singh was arrested the day before he was due to lead an antigovernment march to New Delhi.

After his release, Singh vowed new protests against the Indian government.

10 killed in Sri Lanka as Tamil rivals feud

Rival Tamil rebel groups fought battles in northern Sri Lanka yesterday and Sunday and at least 10 rebel fighters were killed, Sri Lankan military officials said. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said fighters of the Tamil Tigers militia also detonated buried explosives under an Indian military convoy Sunday night in eastern Sri Lanka.

Kenya and Uganda battle on the border

Kenyan police battled Ugandan troops for hours yesterday on the border, a Kenyan government official said. He said two Ugandans were killed and others were wounded, with no Kenyan casualties reported. The fight began when about 60 Ugandan soldiers crossed the border near Busia, said Bethuel Kiplagat, permanent secretary for foreign affairs.

Mexico drops peso value to help weak economy

Mexico sharply devalued the national currency by 22 percent yesterday, from 1,800 to 2,200 pesos to the dollar, as part of a series of measures designed to shore up the weak economy. The decision puts the controlled rate, which is regulated by the government, at about the same level as the peso in free-market trading.

The value of the peso in free marketing plummeted nearly 46 percent last month after the Bank of Mexico decided to stop providing dollars to support the currency.

Bipartisan praise, feud greet Kennedy hearings

Supreme Court nominee Anthony Kennedy won bipartisan praise from senators at the start of his confirmation hearings yesterday, but a feud erupted when some Republicans advised Judge Kennedy to restrict responses on his constitutional views. Mr. Kennedy, who has espoused a conservative philosophy of a limited role for judges, opened his drive for confirmation by declaring that he has no fixed views on abortion or limitations on privacy rights.

Leading economists wax gloomy after stock drop

The National Association of Business Economists said its latest quarterly survey, taken at the end of November, reflected growing pessimism following the record plunge in stock prices Oct. 19. Separately, output at US factories, mines, and utilities climbed a 0.4 percent in November, indicating that industrial America felt no immediate adverse effects after the stock market collapse, the government said yesterday.

Odometer fraud to cost Chrysler $16 million

Chrysler Motors Corporation pleaded no contest yesterday to charges that thousands of its vehicles were sold as new even though company employees had driven them with the odometers disconnected. The company agreed to pay more than $16 million to the car owners as part of a settlement of current and potential class-action lawsuits.

For the record

The dollar sank to new lows yesterday, pushing gold above the $500 mark for the first time in nearly five years, as investors fled the currency on fears the US will not move decisively to defend it. The Soviet Union said it detonated a nuclear device Sunday, its first since last week's signing of a treaty to eliminate US and Soviet intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

Belgian King Baudouin accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Wilfried Martens' government yesterday, after elections cut the center-right coalition's legislative majority.

Botswana deported 185 Zimbabweans over the weekend, accusing them of illegally entering Botswana.

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