News Currents

UNITED STATESFive American presidents gathered yesterday at the dedication of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif. Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, and George Bush celebrated the biggest reunion ever of US presidents.... Up to 2,400 workers are on strike at two Caterpillar Inc. facilities after negotiations between the two failed.... Firefighters are fighting blazes that have ravaged more than 200,000 acres of brushland and forests in the East. Blinding smoke, frost, a nd a lack of rain are thwarting their efforts. One firefighter has been killed in Kentucky and several slightly injured in other states. An estimated 5,000 people were fighting fires as recently as Sunday in West Virginia.... Recession has hit southern California with a vengeance as once-booming development has ground to a halt. Some real estate experts believe the problems of southern California are so severe it will take most of this decade for the market to return to normal. Some have suggested downtown Los Angeles may be headed for a free-fall that could be as bad as Houston's or Denver's.

EUROPE Kuwait will pay off its $22 billion debt for Operation Desert Storm, the US-led campaign to drive Iraqi forces out of the emirate, by the end of December, a Kuwaiti official in London said yesterday.... A bomb that killed two British soldiers at a Belfast hospital Saturday was smuggled through a children's ward by Irish Republican Army guerrillas, a British minister said. The IRA hailed the bombing as a major security coup.... Heavy fighting continued in Croatia despite the threat of European Community s anctions on any republic that does not accept an EC plan to transform Yugoslavia into a loose grouping of its six republics. Serbia is the only one that has rejected the latest EC attempt to end the conflict. Talks on the proposal are scheduled today in The Hague.... A group of 60 asylum-seeking foreigners was taken to safety in western Germany early yesterday after 200 neo-Nazis stormed their hostel in the eastern German town of Greifswald. The weekend incident, together with a gasoline-bomb attack on an i mmigrant shelter near Bonn, continued a wave of xenophobic violence against foreigners, considered the worst since Nazi times.

ASIA AND THE PACIFIC US Secretary of State James Baker III will visit to China this month to discuss trade, human rights, and arms proliferation with Beijing's hard-line leaders. Baker will be the most senior US official to come to Beijing since the Chinese Army killed hundreds of pro-democracy demonstrators around Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989.... The United Cricket Board of South Africa accepted an invitation from India to tour the subcontinent this month.... Taiwan and the Soviet Union signed their first agreement on c ooperation in science and technology yesterday.

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