News Currents

GULF AND MIDDLE EAST Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir told the French weekly Journal du Dimanche that Israel must negotiate with Palestinians, but only with a group from outside the Palestine Liberation Organization.... Syrian President Hafez al-Assad was due to leave for Egypt Sunday for his first visit to Cairo since the end of the Gulf War.... An Arab League meeting in Cairo over the weekend, intended to show unity in an Arab world fractured by the Persian Gulf War, fell apart quickly. "Wounds had not healed yet," s aid Egypt's ambassador to the Arab League, Mahmoud Abu Al Nasr. (Story, Page 3.)


Pope John Paul II in his Easter Sunday message hit out at the death and destruction of the Gulf war, condemned oppression of peoples in the Middle East and appealed for a just international order. He addressed about 150,000 people in St. Peter's Square and millions more in over 50 nations watching on television.... Thousands of Chinese flocked to Easter services Sunday in China, many saying they turned to religion after disillusionment with politics. "We no longer believe in Marxism," a 25-year-old stud ent said, "and religion helps many of us to fill the spiritual gap."


Cuba has said it had agreed with the Congolese government to withdraw a special tactical group of Cuban troops stationed in the Congo since 1977.... The Rwandese government and rebels fighting a six-month civil war in the small East African country have signed a cease-fire in Zaire, a rebel spokesman in Uganda said Saturday.... Rival black leaders Nelson Mandela and Mangosuthu Buthelezi, sharing some blame for fighting between their followers in South Africa, said after peace talks this weekend that the y might try to draw President Frederik de Klerk into efforts at restoring calm.


The prime minister of Pakistan-ruled Kashmir dissolved the territory's Legislative Assembly Sunday and ordered fresh elections for July 2. Mumtaz Hussain Rathore said he made the decision because of continuous threats to his nine-month-old coalition government.... Indonesia has sent naval patrols to the site of the sunken Portuguese galleon "Flor De La Mar" and its billion-dollar treasure in the Malacca Straits. The sunken ship, which went down in 1511, was located in June 1990 in waters between Sumatra and Malaysia.... Increasing human rights abuses by Beijing could derail a US trade policy worth billions of dollars to China each year, US Reps. Christopher Smith (R) of New Jersey and Frank Wolf (R) of Virginia, said in Hong Kong after a five-day trip to the mainland.... Official Radio Kabul hinted Saturday that Muslim rebels might have captured the besieged city of Khost in eastern Afghanistan, in what would be a major symbolic victory for the rebel fighters.

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