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MIDDLE EAST AND GULF A pro-Iranian Lebanese leader said in Beirut April 2 that the issue of 12 Western hostages in Lebanon was deadlocked despite a flurry of diplomatic activity and reports of an imminent release.... Freed after spending five years in an Iranian jail after overstaying his visa in 1985, British businessman Roger Cooper arrived in London April 2. Cooper's release was seen as another sign of the improving relations between Britain and Iran.... Nearly one-third of US troops in the Gulf region have left for home and the withdrawal is continuing. But the major pullout of troops in southern Iraq will not begin until a permanent UN cease-fire has been signed.... Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, changing an earlier position, said he now supports a limited US military role in the Gulf region.


Yugoslavia faced a new threat of civil war April 2 after leaders of the Serbian minority in Croatia said they were unifying a huge part of the republic with Serbia. The declaration followed a shoot-out between Serbs and Croatian police March 31 in which two people were killed and 20 injured in the Croatian tourist resort of Plitivice.... Albania's main opposition party, crushed by the ruling Communists in multiparty elections, tried to calm its embittered supporters by saying it would continue to strugg le for democracy.... The office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said April 2 it was bracing for a big rise in people fleeing violence in Iraq. Iran and Turkey could bear the brunt of the exodus.


Japan's biggest business organization, Keidanren, will send a mission to South Africa this month amid calls by businessmen for Tokyo to lift economic sanctions. Japan became South Africa's top trading partner in 1987, spurring strong criticism. Tokyo then banned new investment there.... Environmental groups from around the world sent a letter to Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu April 2, demanding that Japan stop hunting species of porpoise and dolphin.... Two Swedish engineers kidnapped in Indian- ruled Kashmir March 31 by unidentified gunmen were freed unharmed early April 2.


Envoys of the Salvadoran government and leftist rebels will launch a crucial round of UN-sponsored peace talks here April 4, seeking an end to the country's 11-year civil war. Talks could go on for a week.... Unidentified gunmen April 1 killed Chilean Sen. Jaime Guzman, a close adviser of that nation's former ruler, Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Two Marxist groups called newspapers claiming responsibility.... The Mexican government April 1 announced a new plan to lower dolphin kills by Mexican tuna fishermen a nd end a US tuna boycott that has been a sticking point in bilateral trade relations.

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