MIDDLE EASTSoviet Foreign Minister Boris Pankin said Sept. 3 that political upheaval in the Soviet Union would not change Moscow's plans to cosponsor a Middle East peace conference set for October.... Israeli opposition leader Shimon Peres said Sept. 2 the Soviet-ruled Baltic states and Israel's Palestinians should be free to govern themselves, but stopped short of endorsing an independent Palestinian state. Head of the Labor Party, Peres also said he hoped in the next election to recapture the prime minister's off ice by attracting votes from Israel's 700,000 Israeli Arabs and from the flood of Soviet immigrants heading to Israel. He said he believes the current peace process will lead to a common market in the Middle East, cementing economic ties between Israel and the Arabs.... Syrian forces deployed in and around Beirut will withdraw to regions east of the city this month, Lebanese Interior Minister Brig. Gen. Sami al-Khatib said Sept. 3. UNITED STATES The Los Angeles Police Department is considering reviving a form of the chokehold - banned nine years ago - as a safer alternative to the baton, the weapon used in the videotaped beating of motorist Rodney King.... Drug agents confiscated more than 2 tons of cocaine with a street value of $500 million in the largest seizure of the drug in New England history and the third major bust this summer, authorities said.... An estimated 1,500 animal lovers demonstrated in Hegins, Pa., against a fund-raiser invol ving the organized shooting of thousands of pigeons released from boxes. Police arrested 84 of the protesters.
EUROPE European nuclear states could set up a global atomic reactor safety code now, say experts meeting in Vienna - but many East European plants might not be able to honor it. Germany Sept. 2 called for an international convention on nuclear safety, saying the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and a worrying state of East European reactors demanded "sober realism." Meanwhile, Cuba hopes to complete its first nuclear reactor in November, an official press report said. The project has been criticized as a safety hazard b y US politicians.... Russian President Boris Yeltsin Sept. 3 declared that Russia would never dominate a proposed new union of Soviet republics. He threw his enhanced political weight behind President Mikhail Gorbachev, saying: "The Russian state...will never be an empire." (Story, Page 1).... The Soviet Union has informed the US it must sell off at least some parts of its civilian space program out of financial necessity, The New York Times reported Sept. 3. Almost everything is on the auction block, inclu ding the world's only space station, Mir.... In Tirana, Albania, the last statue of the late Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha was removed Sept. 2. Hoxha kept the country isolated for decades under hardline Communist rule.