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GULF AND MIDDLE EAST Iraq said Thursday it had crushed a rebellion in its Kurdish north, driving the rebels from their last stronghold. Hundreds of thousands of Kurdish families fled through snowbound mountains Wednesday and Thursday in fear of reprisals, with little food and clothing.... President Bush said he is standing firm in his refusal to offer military help to forces opposed to Saddam Hussein.... Kendal Nezan, president of the Paris-based Kurdish Institute, said President Bush's ``new world order'' had been ba ptized in hypocrisy, concealed under ``the fig-leaf of non-interference.'' ... The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadako Ogata, said she feared extermination of the Kurdish people.... Iran, with a million Iraqi Shiite refugees at its border, described the flight from Iraq ``as the worst human catastrophe of the century.'' ... US Defense Secretary Richard Cheney said Iraq has no choice but to accept tough UN-approved peace terms if it wants to end international economi c sanctions now imposed on Iraq.


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The Russian parliament Thursday approved in principle a plan to give populist leader Boris Yeltsin special powers to end chaos in the republic, and set popular elections for a Russian presidency for June 12. The vote was 588 in favor and 292 against.... The Soviet government and representatives of striking coal miners Thursday agreed to double workers' wages in a major step toward ending the work stoppage, but it was unclear whether the rank and file would accept the raise.... The leaders of Yugoslavia's six republics scheduled a new crisis meeting Thursday after bloody gun battles between Serbs and Croats in Croatia. Three people were killed in Croatia's Plitvice national park last Sunday in gun battles between Croatian police and the rebellious Serbian minority.


Cuban President Fidel Castro, jibing at suggestions by foreign critics that his Communist-ruled country was politically isolated, said in Havana Wednesday Cuba was the most independent nation on earth. To offset massive cuts in supplies from the Soviet Union, the government has tightened rationing in all areas of the economy.... The US government said the recent Albanian elections that resulted in a communist victory ``fell short in several key areas'' of democratic standards for fair and free balloting.... Drilling in western China's oil-rich Turpan Basin has begun with thousands of workers arriving on the site. China's onshore oil output has dwindled.... Malaysia, a major timber exporter, will reduce timber production to preserve its forests, but it plans to boost output of rubberwood, rattan, and bamboo, Deputy Prime Mi nister Ghafar Baba said Thursday.... Moscow has sounded out Seoul with an offer to sell Soviet-built MIG fighters with the proceeds to be used to buy consumer goods from South Korea, a nationally circulated South Korean newspaper reported Thursday. North Korea already buys Soviet MIGs.

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