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MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS Iraq has sent nearly 1,000 Western hostages home in the past few days, but insists it will not surrender one inch of conquered Kuwait. Baghdad and Washington continued to haggle over dates for high-level talks.... The UN Security Council delayed again a debate on whether to hold an international peace conference on the Middle East to see if further negotiations between American and nonaligned diplomats can devise a compromise resolution on the conference.... Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens said on the eve of the first Israel-American summit in 13 months that there was no need for new ideas on solving the Arab-Israeli conflict. Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir met with President Bush Dec. 11.


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In Houston, Secretary of State James Baker III and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze Dec. 10 held the first of five planned sessions to discuss the Persian Gulf crisis, humanitarian aid for the Soviet Union, and possible dates for a superpower summit.... Mayor David Dinkins said that due to cuts in state aid and projected tax shortfalls, New York City is now facing a budget gap of $250 million. Dinkins warned that the state cuts might cost the city as much as $185 million, but the mayor could not suggest where cuts would be made.


The ruling Communists in Serbia and Montenegro enjoyed massive victories in the first postwar multiparty elections in the two Yugoslav republics, bucking the anti-Marxist tide that swept the rest of the nation and most of Eastern Europe.... Poland's defeated presidential challenger, Stanislaw Tyminski, said Dec. 11 that he was unaware of a prosecutor's order barring him from leaving the country, and planned to exit Dec. 12. Tyminski is under investigation for allegedly accusing Prime Minister Tadeusz Mazowiecki of betraying the country by selling its best companies to foreigners at knockdown prices.... Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, expelled from the Soviet Union in 1974 for his accounts of Stalinist tyranny, has been awarded the Russian state literature prize.


Arriving in Seoul Dec. 11, North Korean Prime Minister Yon Hyong-muk voiced skepticism over the scheduled reunification talks with his South Korean counterpart. Yon took issue with the South Korean Nov. 30 arrest of three Seoul dissidents who attended a North Korea-sponsored meeting in Berlin seeking the creation of a pan-national union for national reunfication.... Taiwanese Premier Lee Teng-hui said Tuesday the time was not right for talks with China. Taipei has asked Beijing to renounce the use of force against Taiwan and move toward democracy.... Japan is sending a mission to the United States to meet black leaders angered by insulting remarks made by Japan's justice minister last September.

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