REFUGEES FOCUS OF BUDAPEST MEETING
Senior officials from 35 countries and a host of non-government agencies opened a two-day meeting yesterday in Budapest to try to ease the refugee crisis threatening Western Europe. Millions seek entry from the wrecked economies of post-Communist Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, and the third world. Rising extremist violence against foreigners in countries such as Germany have graphically illustrated tensions in recent months. Among the issues will be a new German plan to turn would-be asylum see kers back to the countries they have used to cross into Germany. Both Poland and the Czech Republic, frequent transit points for such would-be refugees, fear this will give their strapped economies a burden they cannot bear. New Cyprus president
Glafcos Clerides became Cyprus's next president on a promise to chart a new course for reuniting the Mediterranean island. But there are no indications what his stance will mean for United Nations proposals to end the division of the country, cut in two when Turkey invaded in 1974 and occupied the northern 38 percent. Mr. Clerides won a razor-thin victory Feb. 14; he takes office March 1. The veteran right-wing leader has branded some of the proposals in the UN plan unworkable and vows not to start negot iations unless they are amended. Sony-Matsushita deal
Sony Corporation and Matsushita Electric Industrial Company plan a common standard for future digital videocassette recorders, company spokesmen said yesterday. The companies hope to avoid repeating a video battle they had a decade ago, when Sony's Betamax lost out to VHS as the standard format for analog VCRs. Analysts cite another concern: Digital videotape could be superseded by recordable compact-disc systems. New Slovakian president
Slovakia's parliament elected banker Michal Kovac as Slovakia's first president yesterday, breaking a deadlock that had threatened to destabilize the newly independent country. He will be inaugurated for a five-year term on March 3. He was the last speaker of Czechoslovakia's federal parliament before the country split into separate Czech and Slovak states Jan. 1. Farm sales in Russia
Russia will soon abandon compulsory sales of agricultural goods to the state and introduce a system of voluntary supply contracts, Interfax news agency said yesterday. The decision to scrap state orders would bring down one of the main pillars of the former Soviet farm system. Farmers have been increasingly reluctant to sell produce to the state at fixed prices in a period of rampant inflation and have been turning to private markets. Indian children march
Fifty children who once worked as virtual slaves weaving carpets ended a 1,240-mile march across northern India yesterday to dramatize the dismal conditions of their earlier work. The children were all under 14 years old and had been rescued from their looms in raids by social groups.