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MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS The United States and Italy chartered Iraqi aircraft to Kuwait yesterday to pick up American hostages, launching an airlift of foreigners trapped since Iraq seized the emirate four months ago. Meanwhile, President Bush said that the hostage release ordered by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein brought the two sides no closer to peace.... Saudi Arabia and the exiled rulers of Kuwait have been secretly sounding out Iraq to try to reach a settlement on the border dispute which led to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, the British newspaper The Independent reported yesterday.... In Jerusalem, Arab and Jewish protests, curfews, and a general strike marked the eve of the third anniversary of the intifadah uprising against Israeli rule in the occupied territories.... The UN Security Council Saturday postponed until today a vote on a resolution on ways of protecting Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories.... Iran yesterday said the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's death sentence against British author Salman Rushdie for allegedly blaspheming Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses was irreversible.


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In Poland, citizens voted yesterday for their first democratically-elected president. Solidarity's Lech Walesa appeared poised to win.... Yugoslav republics Serbia and Montenegro voted yesterday in free elections. Communists have been ousted from power in Yugoslavia's other four republics this year and the outcome in Serbia is considered crucial for the country's future.... The Soviet security service said Saturday that theft by organized criminals and distribution bottlenecks were to blame for acute food shortages in the Soviet Union.... The German government is probing into allegations that former East German Premier Lothar de Maiziere, now in Chancellor Helmut Kohl's united German Cabinet, informed for the Communist secret police.... Howling winds and heavy snow paralyzed parts of Britain Saturday, stranding hundreds of drivers and leaving thousands of homes without electricity. The storm hit Wales and northern and central England and severed the north-south transportation links.


Angered by the US evacuation of dissident Libyans from Chad, Libya called for the expulsion of Paris and Washington from the United Nations. A US transport Saturday whisked more than 200 US-trained Libyans opposed to Col. Muammar Qaddafi out of Chad.... South African police found six people shot to death in new violence at Thokoza near Johannesburg, where 52 people were killed last weekend. The victims fell in factional fighting between migrant workers sympathizing with Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party and township people backing Nelson Mandela's African National Congress.... The Pan African Congress and the Inkatha Freedom Party yesterday wound up separate conferences designed to restructure and prepare them for major roles in South Africa.

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