News Currents

MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS President Bush said Dec. 17 Iraq must pull out of ``every square inch'' of Kuwait by the Jan. 15 deadline if it wants a peaceful resolution of the Persian Gulf crisis.... NATO foreign ministers, meeting in Brussels, have sent Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein a tough message that a partial withdrawal from Iraq will not prevent war.... The UN Security Council Dec. 18 again postponed voting on a controversial resolution aimed at protecting Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories and deploring Israel's planned deportations of four Gaza Strip residents. The main stumbling block was a reference to a Middle East peace conference that Israel rejects and the United States opposes as a concession to Iraq.... Saudi Arabia has stopped all jet fuel and diesel oil exports to boost military stocks before the UN Jan. 15 deadline for Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait.... New Zealand's decision to join the multinational force in the Gulf means defense contacts with the US are resuming after a six-year freeze, Foreign Affairs Minister Don McKinnon said Dec. 18.


In Moscow, delegates from Moldavia walked out of the Soviet parliament Dec. 18, angered that Moscow was ignoring their call for a crackdown on breakaway ethnic minorities. The meeting of the Congress of the People's Deputies opened Dec. 17.... President Mikhail Gorbachev stifled talk of a confidence vote and won support from conservatives and radicals to enhance his authority.... Officials from the breakaway Baltic republics Dec. 18 rejected Gorbachev's proposal for a national referendum on the future of the Soviet Union. Estonian President Arnold Ruutel told the Congress the Baltics instead favor a normalization of ``interstate relations'' with Moscow.... The Soviet ambassador to Japan Dec. 18 urged the West to provide emergency economic aid to his country to avert economic disaster.


Senior Pakistani and Indian officials met Dec. 18 to seek ways to defuse tensions that have built up between the two rival nations over the disputed region of Kashmir. In two previous rounds of talks the two countries failed to make any significant progress toward resolving the root causes of tensions. India has accused Pakistan of arming and training Islamic militants conducting an 11-month-old uprising against New Delhi's rule in Jammu and Kashmir state. Islamabad has denied the charges.... Indonesian authorities have detained five suspects in the killing of rare Sumatran double-horned rhinoceroses in a national park. At least 10 rhinoceroses were killed in the Sumatran jungle in the last four months.... In its latest rebuff to President Corazon Aquino, the Philippine Supreme Court Dec. 18 declared her appointment of a former law professor as acting election chief unconstitutional. The court said Aquino infringed the constitutionally mandated independence of the Commission on Elections, the nation's election watchdog.

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