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The Pentagon said Sunday that three US officials went to Malta to give ``advice and assistance'' to Egyptian and Maltese forces involved in the rescue of hostages from a hijacked EgyptAir jet last week. A White House spokesman had earlier denied newspaper reports that said two officers from the US military mission in Cairo accompanied the Egyptian commandos to Malta.

Meanwhile in Cairo, Capt. Hani Galal, the pilot of the plane, said Saturday that a second hijacker survived the storming of the aircraft in Malta and was being treated at a Maltese hospital. Mr. Galal said that there were five hijackers, not four as originally reported.

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Officials at the Valletta hospital where the known surviving hijacker, Omar Marzouki, is being treated declined comment on Galal's report.

However, Egyptian Prime Minister Ali Lutfi told Parliament that Egypt had requested the extradition of only one man and made no mention of a second surviving highjacker. Malta has said it will agree to extradite Marzouki, who claims Tunisian citizenship.

In Valletta, a police source said one hijacker might have escaped in the confusion of the commandos' assault, but there was no hard evidence to support this theory.

Maltese investigators are trying to determine the cause of the fire responsible for most of the 58 deaths on the plane. Autopsies of the victims apparently revealed that seven people died of bullet wounds, while the others perished from smoke inhalation.

Egyptian officials have said that grenades thrown by the hijackers started the fire. Investigators are trying to determine whether the fire was, in fact, started when the Egyptian commandos blasted a hole in the cargo hold of the plane to gain entrance.

Cautious optimism on arms at opening of NATO meeting

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization opens its annual autumn ministerial meetings today amid cautious optimism that last month's US-Soviet summit has opened the way for progress in arms control. Prospects for arms control will figure in the meeting of NATO defense ministers on Tuesday, and they will assess results of a drive to improve the alliance's conventional defenses.

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Also tomorrow, NATO ambassadors in Vienna will present to the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact a new Western proposal for a quick troop cut in an attempt to break a 13-year stalemate in talks on reducing forces in Central Europe.

Offices of American-Arab group hit a third time by fire

Investigators said a fire that heavily damaged the offices of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee may have been caused by arson. The fire, which started Friday night, marked the third time in four months that offices of the group had been damaged under suspicious circumstances. The committee's Washington offices suffered $450,000 in damages, according to a fire department spokesman.

Gandhi asks Pakistan leader to nuclear-plant opening

Prime Minister Ranjiv Gandhi told a group of Japanese reporters he had invited Pakistan President Zia ul-Haq to attend the inauguration of a nuclear power plant when President Zia visits India next month. Mr. Gandhi, who is visiting Japanese Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone this week, said that while India's relations with Pakistan were improving, India could not sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as requested by Pakistan. But he told reporters: ``We have no intention of building a nuclear weapon.''

French group seeks better ties between France and Iran

A French mercy mission to Lebanon said that France should improve relations with Iran if it wants Lebanese kidnappers to free four French hostages, a Beirut newspaper said Saturday. And the conservative daily An-Nahar, in a story from its Paris correspondent, added that France appeared ready to open ``direct contact'' with Tehran. Relations between them have become strained since Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

Kohl asks Nobel Peace Prize not be given to Soviet doctor

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl appealed to the Nobel Prize committee not to give the 1985 Peace Prize to Soviet doctor Yevgeny Chazov, the chancellor's Christian Democrat Party said yesterday. Dr. Chazov shares the 1985 Peace Prize with American co-chairman of the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, Dr. Bernard Lown.

The party said Mr. Kohl had written to the Peace Prize committee charging that Chazov was involved in human rights abuses, including the slandering of Soviet dissident Andrei Sakharov.

Worldwide group paves way to more liberal global trade

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade organization has cleared the way for negotiations to liberalize the global trading system. The group defused a year-long dispute over what issues should be discussed. Delegates said negotiators succeeded in papering over a rift between industrial countries led by the United States and a key group of third-world states on service industries, such as banking, telecommunications, and transport.

Paris's Le Monde offers its readers a stake in its survival

France's leading newspaper, Le Monde, has launched a campaign to give its readers a 12.28 percent stake as part of a plan to solve its economic woes. The sale of 30,000 shares at around $62 apiece signals a radical shift from tradition for the newspaper, which since its creation in 1944 has been owned by staff and founding members.

Le Monde faced possible collapse because of accumulated debts of $11 million.

Military toys protested by antiwar groups across US

A dozen antiwar activists picketed in West Hartford, Conn., home of Coleco Industries Inc., which plans to bring out a toy modeled on the gun-packing Vietnam veteran character portrayed by Sylvester Stallone in the Rambo, First Blood movies. Military toys came under attack by other antiwar activists demonstrating Saturday at shopping centers in Columbus, Ohio, Seattle, and Milwaukee.

A spokesman for one of the groups noted that five of the current top six best-selling toys are ``war toys,'' citing Transformers, Masters of The Universe, Gobots, Voltron, and GI Joe.

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