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WAR IN THE GULF Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati, sounding less than optimistic, said Thursday in Paris that Iraq's response to a Soviet plan to end the Gulf war might not be a positive response.... Iraq had said Wednesday that the coalition had rejected all its ``peaceful attempts'' to end the Gulf war and vowed to keep fighting until the end.... President Bush considers Moscow's Gulf peace plan an ill-advised Soviet move to win greater influence in the Arab world, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.... Scholars from various Muslim countries held a three-day meeting this week in Saudi Arabia and detailed how their interpretations of the Koran, the Shariah, and other Muslim teachings clearly authorized and even mandated their participation in the war against Iraq. Sheikh Abdul Aziz Bin Abdullah Al Sheikh, a member of the Supreme Ulema Committee, a body of influential religious leaders, said: ``It was a shock and surprise for every Muslim that some Islamic groups had some support for the aggressor [Saddam Hussein].''


Conservatives in the Russian Federation parliament demanded an emergency meeting Thursday in an apparent first step to remove Boris Yeltsin as leader after he urged Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to resign. Hard-line deputies in the Soviet parliament accused Yeltsin of fomenting civil war.... Albania's Communist leaders Wednesday bowed to student demands to drop the name of former Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha from the title of Tirana University. Tens of thousands of demonstrators had joined the students by pulling down a towering bronze statue of Hoxha in Tirana.


Ethiopia appealed Thursday for international aid to deal with the threat of starvation among a growing refugee population that has passed the 1 million mark. Because of the downfall last month of neighboring Somalia's president, Siad Barre, Ethiopia, which itself faces a potentially major famine this year, now has nearly 640,000 Somali refugees on its territory.... A South African government minister apologized Wednesday in Cape Town to nonwhite South Africans for 40 years of racial discrimination. ``Apartheid was a terrible mistake that blighted our land.... We now know that we have hurt our fellow countrymen,'' said Deputy Foreign Minister Leon Wessels of the ruling white National Party.


Saturday: Solidarity trade union holds congress in Gdansk, Poland, to elect a new chairman to replace Lech Walesa. Monday: Ceremonies in Managua to mark the first anniversary of President Violeta Chamorro's election. Thursday: Estonian and Latvian republics hold their own referendums on future independence, separate from Moscow-backed Soviet referendum scheduled for March 17.

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