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MIDDLE EAST AND GULF Kuwaiti opposition groups have rejected the emirate's new Cabinet, sworn in Sunday, as a challenge to the people's will and demanded more democratic reforms. The opposition groups represent Western-style liberals, pan-Arab nationalists, conservative Sunni Muslims, Shiite Muslims, fundamentalists, and merchants.... While the US Marines prepared the first camp in Iraq to receive Kurdish refugees, Iraqi troops, told by Washington not to interfere, withdrew to the south. Iraq's Saddam Hussein appears to be close to making an autonomy deal with Kurdish rebels so that the UN will lift crushing economic sanctions, the Times of London said yesterday.... US Secretary of State James Baker III headed to Kuwait yesterday after Saudi Arabia said it would not attend a proposed regional peace conference with Israel. But Egypt will attend.


The "old men" of Taiwan's National Assembly voted themselves out of a job yesterday by passing constitutional reforms designed to bring more democracy to the island. Some members of the Nationalist Party have been in power for 40 years. The party fled communist victory on the mainland in 1949.... A woman was elected mayor Sunday for the first time in Japan. Attorney Harue Kitamura became the nation's first woman elected mayor when she ousted Koroku Yamamura, the incumbent mayor of Ashiya, in southwest J apan.... A group of college students in China, active in the 1989 pro-democracy movement, in a long statement from four universities made public yesterday, said they are continuing quiet resistance to government repression. It chided Western nations for courting China's support during the Persian Gulf war.... Japan, which balked at joining the multinational forces fighting the Gulf war, has decided to send minesweepers to help in cleanup efforts.


A last-minute effort to ram through constitutional changes needed to end El Salvador's 11-year civil war seemed to be losing a race against the clock. A rebel proposal to amend the constitution to allow more speedy reforms on military and human rights issues was rejected by the conservative government of President Alfredo Cristiani at current peace talks in Mexico City.... Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney has shuffled more than half his Cabinet ministers in a bid to boost his sagging popularity an d give fresh impetus to efforts aimed at averting Quebec's separation.... Poland signed a landmark 50 percent debt-reduction agreement with the Paris Club of Western government creditors Sunday. The 17 Western creditor-governments pledged to reduce Poland's official debt of $35 billion by 30 percent over the next three years and by a further 20 percent if Poland adheres to a specified economic program.... Britain is preparing a royal welcome for Polish President Lech Walesa, who arrives Tuesday for the firs t visit to the country by a Polish head of state.

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