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WAR IN THE GULF US Secretary of State James Baker III, testifying before the House Foreign Relations Committee Wednesday, said members of the anti-Iraq coalition have so far come up with $51 billion in pledged contributions, which will make up 80 percent of the estimated cost of Operation Desert Storm for the first three months of 1991. Baker also said the US has some ideas for a postwar security structure in the Middle East, including some kind of regional organization that would settle future disputes. He warned Iraq that the use of chemical or biological weapons will have ``the most severe consequences.'' ... A Saudi government wildlife commission issued a report Wednesday saying last month's spill of an estimated 7 million barrels of oil in the Persian Gulf has caused ``heavy losses'' among several marine species. The German government, embarrassed by the role German firms played in setting up Iraq's military arsenal, announced plans to further tighten export laws.


The state of California's Water Resources Control Board Wednesday abruptly canceled its plan to adopt tough new measures for dealing with a five-year-old drought, saying it would give a governor's task force time to do the job. ... President Bush Wednesday signed a law authorizing disability payments to Vietnam War veterans suffering from exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange.


President Bush told a gathering of the nation's top business leaders that the US would emerge from its recession and return to economic growth by the middle of the year. ... Trade Representative Carla Hills Wednesday tried to allay congressional fears of US jobs being lost as a result of a proposed free trade pact with Canada and Mexico. Noting that some firms were already moving to Asia, Hills said that by moving to Mexico instead they would spur a neighboring economy and some of the new prosperity would return to the US. ... Treasury Secretary Nicholas Brady said the government plans to put forward a set of proposed accounting changes in the next 10 days designed to encourage banks to lend more.


Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev appealed on state television Wednesday for support to hold the Soviet Union together, saying the nation's superpower status hinged on the outcome of a March 17 referendum. He called on Soviet citizens to cast their ballots in favor of a renewed Soviet Union in which the sovereign rights of its 15 republics would be respected. Independence-minded Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia, and Armenia have said they do not intend to take part in the Soviet referendum. ... The three Cambodian resistance groups have agreed to attend the next round of talks in Jakarta aimed at settling the 12-year-old Cambodian conflict.

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