UNITED STATESConvening for a rare weekend session, the Senate Saturday sent to President Bush a $270 billion defense appropriation bill. The bill provides most of the money for US defense programs for next year. The Senate also adopted a condition requiring the president to get its approval on any decision to keep the US in a European conventional-forces treaty, which slashes non-nuclear arms.... Republican lawmakers Saturday argued for a chance to bring their package of tax cuts for a House vote this week, saying sw ift action is crucial to stimulate the economy.... The White House Saturday threatened a veto of a bill that would pay for the thrift cleanup from spending cuts.... The Alaska Supreme Court ordered that results from the only exploratory oil well drilled on the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must be turned over to the Alaska Department of Natural Resources. The decision reversed a lower-court ruling that revealing the data would be an illegal taking of private property.... Most respondents consider Japanese investments a serious threat to the US economy and favor more restrictions on Japanese imports, according to a poll published Saturday.
MIDDLE EAST Iraq scored its first victory in a campaign to unlock $4 billion in assets frozen by the West, securing $125 million from Britain in exchange for freeing British engineer Ian Richter. Richter was released Saturday after serving nearly six years of a life sentence for bribery.... Iraq is exporting refined-oil products to Lebanon and Turkey in defiance of the United Nations trade embargo, diplomats in the Middle East yesterday. Meanwhile, Iraq and the UN agreed yesterday to extend for six months relief ope rations for victims of the Gulf war.... Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir Saturday reiterated that Israel would never agree to giving up land for peace, despite comments made earlier that he is willing to discuss the occupied territories in peace negotiations with Arabs. Meanwhile, Israeli Cabinet ministers criticized the Bush administration for pressuring Israel to attend Middle East peace talks in Washington. Palestinians said they will attend a second round of Arab-Israeli peace talks in Washington n ext month. Jordan has also agreed to attend the talks (See story, Page 6).
EUROPE The breakaway Yugoslav republic of Croatia saw an early morning lull in fighting as warring parties awaited a new truce, due to come into effect yesterday. The truce was signed by Serbian, Croatian, and federal Army leaders at an emergency meeting that UN envoy Cyrus Vance called in Geneva. Croatia and the Serb-led army were to hold talks in the Zagreb yesterday.... Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said Saturday his republic would not join in a new confederation of Soviet republics.... Belgians voted yesterday in elections in which the major parties were expected to lose ground, making the divided country of 10 million people even harder to govern.