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MIDDLE EAST AND GULF UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata arrived in Iran this weekend to assess the plight of more than 1 million Iraqi refugees who have fled to Iran for sanctuary. She will also visit Turkey, where hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Kurds have fled from Iraqi troops.... A UN team has held a first round of talks in Baghdad on ways of easing the plight of the refugees who have fled their homes in Iraq.... Iran and Iraq are embroiled in a dispute over the number of aircraft Baghdad flew into its neighbor's territory for safekeeping during the Persian Gulf War. Now that the fighting is over, Iraq wants its aircraft back and says Tehran is holding 148. Iran says the number is more like 22, maybe even fewer.... Kuwait has said US experts were not working fast enough to put out its burning oil wells. Oil Minister Rashid al-Ameeri said non-American companies would be invited in with the aim of cutting by nearly two-thirds the American experts' estimated two-year timetable.... Israeli Prime M inister Yitzhak Shamir, due in London this week, will meet Soviet Prime Minister Valentin Pavlov for the first time there to discuss restoring full diplomatic relations. Israel has said the Soviet Union must renew full diplomatic ties before it can play a role in any Arab-Israeli peace talks.


The threat of a Soviet economic collapse grew over the weekend as a six-week miners' strike brought parts of the steel industry to a halt and separatists from the Georgia republic stopped fuel shipments reaching Russia from Black Sea ports.... Germany has named Birgit Breuel, a free-market politician from Chancellor Helmut Kohl's Christian Democratic Party, as the new president of Treuhand, the ag ency privatizing East German state-owned enterprises. She succeeds Detlev Rohwedder, who was murdered by Red Army guerrillas April 1.... Former US President Richard Nixon, in New York after a recent two-week visit to the Soviet Union, said in a television interview that Mikhail Gorbachev ``made a fundamental turning to reactionaries in order to keep power...'' Pope John Paul II named Moscow's first Roman Catholic archbishop S aturday and carved up the Soviet Union into new dioceses.... A number of Vincent Van Gogh paintings worth millions of dollars were stolen early Sunday from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam.


Nigeria has said it would press for sanctions against South Africa to be lifted at an Organization of African Unity meeting in June if Pretoria scrapped its remaining apartheid laws by next month.... As tribal violence continued in South Africa, African National Congress deputy President Nelson Mandela charged the government has brought South Africa to the brink of crisis by failing to curb the factional killing... . Guerrilla commander Antonio Cardenal, nephew of Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro, was killed last week in an army ambush in northern El Salvador, a rebel source said.

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