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Israel and Uzbekistan have exchanged notes on establishing diplomatic relations, ITAR-Tass news agency reported Feb. 25.... Saudi Arabia's King Fahd has called for stronger links with the Islamic republics of the former Soviet Union. UNITED STATES

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General Motors released Feb. 24 a list of 12 US and Canadian plants that will be shut, mostly within a year, as part of its struggle to regain profitability. Some 16,299 people will lose their jobs. GM also reported a $4.45 billion loss for 1991, the biggest in US corporate history... Secretary of State James Baker III said on Feb. 24 that Israel must freeze settlements in the occupied territories to get $10 billion in US loan guarantees.... President Bush announced new ground rules Feb. 24 for the regul ation, and in some cases, deregulation of biotechnology. JUSTICE

Lawsuits in the US over silicone breast implants will drag on for years, costing manufacturers dearly and possibly driving some into bankruptcy, trial lawyers told Reuters, citing Dalkon Shield intrauterine-device suits that have lasted more than 13 years. EUROPE

Viktor Alksnis, dubbed the "Black Colonel" for his hard-line views, said Feb. 25 he was quitting the commonwealth armed forces and taking up a full-time political fight to restore the Soviet Union. He said he had been told there were plans to discharge him for taking part in an antigovernment rally in Moscow Feb. 23.... The International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it will postpone or cancel research and safety projects because member states have not paid their dues.

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