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MIDDLE EAST DEVELOPMENTS The foreign ministers of Egypt, Syria, and Libya gathered in Cairo yesterday for talks on the Persian Gulf crisis. The three nations have condemned Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.... Iran yesterday renewed its pledge to remain neutral should war break out between Iraq and US-led forces in Saudi Arabia.... A powerful 13-ship US armada left the Philippines for the Gulf yesterday. The amphibious task force of 7,500 marines, backed by Harrier jump-jets, helicopters, and M-60 tanks, is expected to arrive in the Gulf by Jan. 15.... The Israeli Army killed four Palestinians as the occupied territories erupted in violence for the second time in four days. Palestinians defied Army curfews Tuesday to mark the 26th anniversary of the first PLO guerrilla operation.... The American Civil Liberties Union is calling on the US Congress to adopt a resolution intended to prevent President Bush from starting a war with Iraq without congressional approval.


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In Washington, President Bush used the word ``recession'' for the first time to describe some areas of the economy, but he said he would veto any big new quick-fix spending plans from Congress to curb it. In a PBS-NPR interview taped for broadcast yesterday, Bush predicted that the economic slump would not be long-lasting.... Rhode Island Gov. Bruce Sundlun closed 45 state-chartered credit unions and banks Tuesday until they can arrange for federal insurance. He ordered the closings because of the near-collapse of the state's private insurance fund, the Rhode Island Share and Deposit Indemnity Fund.... Those convicted in New Hampshire of murder connected to rape or drug trafficking face the death penalty under laws that took effect Tuesday.


In Somalia, Italy yesterday sought a cease-fire between Somali government and rebel forces to evacuate foreigners endangered by fierce fighting in the capital Mogadishu. Forces loyal to President Mohamed Siad Barre were reportedly still battling rebels trying to end his 21-year rule.... Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida said Tuesday that his country may face food supply problems during the first half of 1991. Several northern African states, including Benin, Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, have said that drought, locusts, and quelea birds had caused major losses of rice, maize, and other crops.


In Kabul, Afghan President Najibullah renewed a peace offer to rebels Tuesday, inviting them to sit down for talks to end the civil war. The Mujahideen guerrillas based in Pakistan and Iran have rejected all past peace offers by Najibullah since he took power in 1986.... Pakistan will not compromise in its dispute with the United States over the nuclear weapons issue despite a cutoff of aid by Washington, Foreign Minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan said Tuesday. All military and new economic aid was halted Oct. 1.

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