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AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen denied reports yesterday that China would support a UN resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq and hinted that it would abstain instead. The US can expect at least 11 Security Council votes in support of the resolution. Iraq yesterday said it would ignore any UN authorization of force, and blasted the US for sponsoring the resolution.... Addressing UN delegates, Harvard economist John Kenneth Galbraith urged the US Tuesday to refrain from using force in the Persian Gulf, saying poor Americans and foreigners would suffer disproportionately from an armed conflict.... The Senate Armed Services Committee launched a congressional review of the Gulf crisis Tuesday with Democrats urging President Bush to give UN sanctions a chance to persuade Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.... Five Israeli soldiers and two guerrillas were killed in southern Lebanon in the latest in a series of fatal attacks along Israel's borders this month.


In Mexico, President Bush and President Salinas concluded two days of talks that focused on a free-trade agreement they hope to reach by 1992. Raising a touchy issue during the talks, Salinas protested Tuesday against the abuse of immigrants along the US-Mexico border.... Farmers will earn near-record income in 1991 thanks to the new farm bill and larger production that will offset higher costs, according to an Agriculture Department forecast. President Bush was expected to sign the new bill yesterday, allowing farmers to alter their mix of crops on up to 25 percent of their land without jeopardizing future eligibility for subsidies.... A federal bankruptcy judge Tuesday granted Eastern Air Lines access to $135 million in fresh cash.


In Britain, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher tendered her resignation to Queen Elizabeth yesterday, formally ending her 11 years in power. John Major, chancellor of the exchequer, took office (See Story, Page 1).... Moscow needs $20 billion to $25 billion in emergency loans, a prominent Soviet economist and member of Parliament said. Nikolai Shmelev told a symposium in Tokyo that his country needs the commodity loans from the West and Japan in order to move to a market economy.... Bulgarian air traffic controllers joined a general strike yesterday, increasing pressure on embattled Socialist Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov to resign.


The Indian government imposed direct rule on Assam, a tea and oil-producing state in the northeast. President Ramaswamy Venkataraman declared illegal the United Liberation Front of Assam guerrilla group, which demands a separate, socialist state.... In Bangladesh, police dispersed about 5,000 students demanding an end to the rule of President Hussein Muhammad Ershad.

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