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MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS Rival Shiite militias have agreed to allow army troops to deploy in large areas of south Lebanon in line with a peace pact aimed at ending three years of fighting there, Muslim and official sources said yesterday.... Informal talks between US congressional aides and the Bush administration have already begun on possible language for a resolution on limited authority to drive Iraqi forces out of Kuwait, the Washington Post reported yesterday. The administration, which has said it does not need congressional authority to use force in the Persian Gulf, has not yet decided whether to seek a resolution from Congress.... Algerian President Chadli Benjedid, resuming his search for an alternative to war in the Gulf, will go to Rome today, then to Paris and Madrid Saturday. Benjedid returned Tuesday from a tour of nine countries in the Middle East with little to show for his effort.


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In San Francisco, US District Court Judge Robert Peckham signed an agreement with the National Lawyers Guild Wednesday to allow as many as 150,000 Guatamalan and Salvadoran immigration cases denied by the US Immigration and Naturalization Service to be reconsidered.... As it bypassed Earth, the spacecraft Galileo sent back data that helps explain how ozone is depleted. The data show a cloud in the stratosphere above Antarctica, scientists said Wednesday. The clouds form in September and October, collecting molecules of chlorine and bromine. As the sun comes up during spring these chemicals react with sunlight and cause ozone depletion.


The Chilean Army Wednesday ordered troops to report to their bases, in protest against pressure from the government for the resignation of former military ruler Augusto Pinochet as armed forces commander. The request for Pinochet's resignation was reportedly made by Defense Minister Patricio Rojas.... Peru and the International Monetary Fund have agreed on broad guidelines for economic reforms, clearing the way for new loans. Peru now hopes the United States, Japan, and some European and Latin American countries will provide low-interest loans and grants for about $2.5 billion over the next year.... Nicaraguan President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro on Wednesday asked all her ministers to hand in their resignations so she could reshuffle the Cabinet next month.... The Mexican state of Chiapas has broken with decades of religious tradition and voted to legalize abortion on demand for the first time in this largely Roman Catholic country.


Tuesday: Christmas Day.... Wednesday: Kwanzaa, a traditional African harvest festival, begins in Washington, D.C.... Friday: Annual meeting of the American Economic Association, in Washington, D.C.

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