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THE GULF AND MIDDLE EAST Israel has launched a program to house at least 11,000 immigrants in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a housing ministry report obtained by Reuters. US Secretary of State James Baker III told a news conference in Jerusalem late March 11 he had detected flexibility and support among Washington's Arab allies for a peace initiative with Israel. He met March 12 with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir and Defense Minister Moshe Arens in a second round of talks (Story, Page 1).... Saddam Hussein ordered his troops to kill Egyptians in Iraq in retaliation for Egypt's opposition in the Gulf war, the newspaper Al Ahram reported in Cairo March 12.... Radio broadcasts in Beirut March 11 cited a French TV report that one of Saddam's guards had wounded the Iraqi leader and killed his senior aide.... Kurdish Iraqi rebels claimed March 12 the government had taken 5,000 women and children hostage and was threatening to kill them if the uprising against Saddam in Kirkuk was not stopped.


The California Medical Association urged March 11 that the state ban smoking in all indoor public places and outlaw cigarette vending machines.... It appeared as if the New York Daily News will be saved as four of 11 unions settled with British publisher Robert Maxwell, who wants to acquire the paper.... The Army March 11 authorized the general demobilization of Army Guard and Reserve units just as quickly as they can return to their US bases and be processed.... Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who has oft en sided with Republicans, formally joined the GOP March 11, becoming the first sitting governor in modern history to swap parties.... President Bush, visiting the Barcroft Elementary School March 11 in Arlington, Va., was asked by a third-grader, "Are you really the president?" Bush fumbled through his wallet for his driver's license and American Express card and said, "Did you think I was pretending?"


The South African government March 12 submitted draft legislation to scrap laws that have segregated housing and enforced land apartheid for nearly 80 years.... Iraq's ambassador to Spain has applied for political asylum there and has gone into hiding, the Spanish government said March 12.... British Prime Minister John Major, visiting Bonn March 11, rejected Margaret Thatcher's fear that the Germans would dominate a more closely integrated Europe (Story, Page 4).... The British and US governments annou nced an agreement March 11 on landing rights at London's Heathrow Airport that will allow Pan American and Trans World Airlines to sell many of their London routes and help them stay in business.... US State Department official Richard Solomon said March 12 in Beijing that Washington believed China has stopped selling weapons to the Khmer Rouge guerrillas fighting in Cambodia.

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