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Pakistan calls for a nuclear pact

Pakistan, the Islamic world's most advanced nuclear state, appealed Thursday to the United States, the Soviet Union and China to help broker a nuclear non-proliferation pact between his country and neighboring India, rivals that have fought three wars. India is known to possess nuclear-weapons capability, and Pakistan is believed to have it. Pakistan's initiative was aimed at ridding South Asia of a growing nuclear threat and at restoring Pakistan's vital ties to the United States. The United States cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Pakistan last fall, citing Pakistan's nuclear potential.U.S. defends arms sales to Mideast

WASHINGTON _ The Bush administration said Thursday its plans for major new weapons sales to Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain help rather that hurt U.S. efforts to promote stability in the Middle East. Insufficient weapons in the hands of pro-American states helped cause the gulf war and could set the stage for future conflicts, Assistant Defense Secretary Henry Rowen told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. President Bush said last week he will seek agreements to eliminate weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and restrict the flow of conventional arms.

Elsewhere . . .

TEL AVIV _ After 40 days without food, peace advocate Abie Nathan ended his hunger strike Thursday without achieving his goals. "I didn't fast to die," said Nathan, 64. He began his fast March 25 to force Israel to repeal a law forbidding meetings with the PLO. His larger purpose was to push for peace with the Arabs.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa _ Nelson Mandela appealed Thursday for an estimated 30 political prisoners to stop a hunger strike, now in its 37th day. Mandela's request is likely to be obeyed. Most of the strikers belong to his African National Congress or support its goals.

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia _ The presidents of Yugoslavia's six contentious republics agreed on Thursday night to accept as a basis for further negotiation a compromise power-sharing plan for this multiethnic country. No details were announced.