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Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir welcomed the announcement that Syria was taking steps to loosen restrictions on its Jewish community, including a ban on travel abroad.... The Arab literary world is torn over whether one of its giants, 70-year-old Emile Habibi, should accept Israel's first-ever prize for Arabic literature. The novelist from Nazareth, the largest Arab town in Israel, is scheduled to receive the $8,300 Israel Prize for Arabic literature May 7. UNITED STATES

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The economy grew at a 2 percent annual rate in the January-March quarter, the strongest rate in three years for the opening quarter, the government said April 28. But most economists expect the upcoming recovery to be much more modest than normal.... General Motors said April 28 it earned $179 million in the first quarter of 1992, crediting improved results in its North American automotive operations for the better performance. EUROPE

Japanese Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, on a visit to France, said he wants his country to play a bigger role in international politics and help build the new "world order." ... The UN can play a role in Bosnia-Herzegovina but needs money and material help to do so, UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali said April 28. ASIA AND THE PACIFIC

An Indonesian military court will try nine men charged in an Army massacre in East Timor before elections in June, the newspaper Media Indonesia said April 28 .... Cuba, desperate for foreign exchange, has agreed to sell sugar to South Korea for the first time.

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