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MIDDLE EASTThe decision by the Israeli Cabinet Sunday to send a delegation to the Middle East peace conference removed the last apparent obstacle to getting the talks started in Madrid on Oct. 30. Egypt agreed last week to go to the conference, and the Palestinians will be part of a joint Jordanian-Palestinian delegation. Syrian President Hafez Assad finally gave the go-ahead to sit down with the Israelis - but only to negotiate a return of the Golan Heights, captured by Israel in 1967. Also, the Soviet Union, form erly an unfriendly player in the Middle East, is cosponsoring the talks with the United States. PLO chairman Yasser Arafat arrived in Cairo yesterday to press for a meeting of Israel's Arab neighbors before the Madrid conference. Israel, paving the way for the release of an American hostage, reported to be Jesse Turner, released 14 Arab prisoners from Khiam prison in Lebanon yesterday.... US sailors started volunteer repair work Sunday at the Kuwait Zoo, damaged by Iraqi troops during their occupation of th e emirate. UNITED STATES The Senate leaders of both parties said in interviews Sunday that an investigation of who leaked a statement by Anita Hill - charging Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment - should begin this week and could cover past congressional leaks as well.... Apple Computer unveiled yesterday a line of notebook computers, powerful new desktop machines, and a new version of its hot-selling Classic computer.

AFRICA Zairian President Mobutu Sese Seko yesterday fired his prime minister, Etienne Tshisekedi, who was named prime minister by the opposition last month following heavy rioting. The two archrivals have feuded for years.... Commonwealth leaders Sunday pledged themselves to the pursuit of human rights for all and sustainable economic development based on free-market policies. In the major declaration of their 28th biennial summit, leaders of 50 countries linked aid from wealthy countries to human rights observ ance in developing countries.

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ASIA AND THE PACIFIC China has shut down more than 200 money-losing state enterprises in Beijing and Tianjin alone in a four-month-old bid to trim this year's staggering $17 billion state subsidy bill, officials said yesterday. Under the centrally mandated experiment, each of China's 35 provinces must close at least 10 lossmaking factories, with once-reliable lines of easy credit severed.... British- and Australian-piloted hot-air balloons flew over Mount Everest for the first time yesterday. The 91-foot balloons drifted ove r the summit of the world's highest mountain and landed in Tibet after nearly two hours aloft.... The death toll from a powerful earthquake that shattered several towns in the Himalayan foothills of north India rose to 375 yesterday. with reports from scores of remote villages still to come.

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