INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND ECONOMICSThe United Nations should take the lead in solving the world's $1.3 trillion debt crisis by establishing an economic version of the UN Security Council, a UN adviser said yesterday.... Economic growth in Asia will top 5 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund reported yesterday. The economies of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan are expected to continue to grow; the economies of India, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka were more seriously affec ted by the Persian Gulf war.... United States Trade Representative Carla Hills and economic ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began talks yesterday. Ms. Hills called for both sides to help ensure a successful conclusion of the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations.... Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu said yesterday Japan will work to open its markets so the Uruguay Round of trade talks can be completed. MIDDLE EAST In Damacus, Syria accused Israel yesterday of wrecking US-sponsored peace efforts in the Middle East by being unwilling to trade land for peace.... Israeli police yesterday began evicting dozens of armed Jewish settlers who broke into empty houses in the Silwan district of Arab East Jerusalem. A radio report said the takeover was sanctioned by hard-line Housing Minister Ariel Sharon.... Shawqi al-Qubaissi, president of the Iraqi Industries Union, said yesterday that 16,000 projects were threatened with c losure and more than 2,000 factories producing food and medical equipment were crippled by the 14-month UN economic embargo against Iraq.... In Marjayoun, Lebanon, guerrillas fired four rockets into the Israeli-held south Lebanon village of Debel yesterday. The missiles did no damage.
EUROPE French farmers continued to pressure the Socialist government for increased subsidies and limits on meat imports yesterday.... A German court yesterday sentenced three senior employees of the Imhausen-Chemie firm to short prison terms for complicity in building the Rabta chemical-weapons factory in Libya, in violation of Germany's export laws. ENVIRONMENT A severe ozone hole has developed over Antarctica for the third year in a row - including an all-time low reading for ozone concentrations, NASA scientists said. The Nimbus-7 satellite shows ozone levels over Antarctica have dropped by about 35 percent since mid-August.... Half of the US's wetlands, including parts of the Florida Everglades and Virginia's Great Dismal Swamp, no longer will qualify for federal protection under the new wetlands policy proposed by the Bush administration, according to two l eading scientists.