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UNITED STATES

The US government is sending strong signals that it wants Saddam Hussein overthrown. Officials told reporters that Central Intelligence director Robert Gates was sent to the Middle East to consult with Egypt and Saudi Arabia on ways to hasten Saddam's downfall. One report in the New York Times said the Bush administration told Congress last fall that the US policy was to foment a coup in Iraq. The Los Angeles Times reports that $30 million has been set aside for this purpose, and on Saturday, Secretary o f State James Baker III said the Iraqi leader was "weaker" than at any time since the Gulf war.... Democratic presidential candidate Paul Tsongas, according to a new poll by WMUR/University of New Hampshire, has the support of 28 percent of the respondents, compared with 19 percent for Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton.... Voters prefer electing a Democratic candidate to reelecting George Bush as president in 1992 by 44 percent to 39 percent, a U.S. News and World Report poll showed Saturday.... The magazine also reported that Republican presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan, in a memo written while he worked in the Nixon White House, said liberal critics of the 1960 Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa, where 67 blacks were shot to death by police, were ideologically antiwhite.

MIDDLE EAST

Algeria's military-dominated government shut down the main offices of the fundamentalist Islamic Salvation Front yesterday and summoned representatives of all the country's political parties for talks. There was heavy fighting over the weekend between fundamentalist protesters and security forces.... Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy late Saturday challenged Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir for the leadership of the ruling Likud bloc. The top post, to be put to the vote at a Likud congress on Feb. 20, ent itles the incumbent to become prime minister. Levy is of Moroccan-Jewish extraction. Other contenders for the succession are Housing Minister Ariel Sharon, the head of the Likud right wing who announced his candidacy a month ago, and Defense Minister Moshe Arens.

JUSTICE

The US Justice Department has filed suit against the Panamanian freighter from whose decks 441 drums of arsenic tumbled into the ocean off the New Jersey shore.... A Scottish high court will sit outside Scotland for the first time when it takes evidence in Lithuania this week from witnesses in a war-crimes defamation case. Antanas Gecas, a retired mining engineer living in Edinburgh, is suing Scottish Television for $1.1 million over a 1987 documentary alleging he was a war criminal.... Czechoslovakia's sale of T-72 tanks to Syria was moving again yesterday, the day after a court overruled Danish officials who had tried to impound a freighter carrying some of the tanks. Germany has returned another freighter, registered as German and also carrying tanks, to its port of origin in Poland.


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