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AROUND THE MIDDLE EAST War talk echoed across the Persian Gulf Oct. 31 as Washington stepped up its rhetoric against Iraq and President Saddam Hussein ordered his troops in occupied Kuwait to stand ready to fight. Egyptian, Syrian, and Saudi Arabian foreign ministers flew to the Saudi Red Sea port of Jiddah to discuss the increasing tensions.... Unidentified gunmen opened fire on an Israeli Army patrol in the occupied Gaza Strip early Oct. 31, wounding one soldier.... The Arab League headquarters formally returned to Cairo Wednesday after an 11-year absence with Acting Secretary-General Asaad al-Asaad at the helm. Several Arab countries had objected to the move because of Egypt's strong anti-Iraqi stand after Baghdad's Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait. The league moved to Tunis on a temporary basis after Egypt's 1979 peace treaty with Israel, when Cairo's Arab League membership was suspended.


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The nation's economic expansion was brisk in the third quarter, but leading economists disagreed whether that meant the country might avert recession or jump into one. The Commerce Department said Oct. 30 that gross national product expanded 1.8 percent in the third quarter.... Supreme Court Justice David Souter, raising questions Oct. 30 during debate over Rust v. Sullivan, appeared skeptical about a government effort to bar health-care workers at federally financed family planning clinics from discussing abortion as an option with pregnant clients.... Minnesota Republican leaders Oct. 30 agreed to a replacement for their gubernatorial candidate, who withdrew following allegations of sexual misconduct. State Auditor Arne Carlson will fill the ballot vacancy.


The Group of 24 countries said Oct. 30 it agreed that energy assistance to reforming European countries must be a top priority. The European Community forecasts that Poland, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia will lose nearly $7 billion in energy bills and lost earnings this year as a result of the Gulf crisis.... Ireland seemed ready to elect its first woman president after a crash in the popularity of early favorite Brian Lenihan, an opinion poll indicated Oct. 31.... British and French engineers celebrated under the English Channel after linking a tunnel that connects Britain with Europe.


National Security forces remained on alert in many parts of north India Oct. 31 to avert further violence after radical Hindus stormed a mosque and tried to begin construction of a Hindu temple.... Kidnappers killed eight civilians they were holding in a mountainside hideout in the southern Philippines after troopers shot one of the captors to death in a gun battle, the Army said Oct. 31. The kidnappers were protesting the construction of a hydroelectric dam in the area.

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