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Celebrations, Appeals For Peace Mark New Year

January 1, 1991

Undated (AP) _ Millions of people around the globe bade farewell to a tumultuous 1990 and embraced the new year with fireworks and gala celebrations, while their leaders appealed for a peaceful solution to the Persian Gulf crisis.

Paris celebrated the 12th stroke of midnight noisily, with whistles, honking horns and the pops of thousands of champagne corks. The Champs- Elysees, Clichy, the Place St. Michel and St. Germain des Pres were crowded.

New Year’s is traditionally a time in Paris for eating oysters, and tens of thousands were consumed at the city’s best fish bars. Long lines of tourists formed outside dance halls like the Moulin Rouge and Lido for midnight shows.

On the more serious side, President Bush praised warmer U.S.-Soviet relations and the nations’ alliance in the effort to drive Iraq from Kuwait.

Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev said the Cold War was over, but that there would be no lasting peace until the gulf crisis was resolved.

The Iraqi embassy in London wished the world a peaceful and prosperous new year and complained that a completely different message emanated from Bush - ″a message of further aggression, destruction and war. ... As for Iraq, it will always carry the olive branch and sing songs of peace and curse war.″

Australians were among the first to ring in 1991. Hundreds of thousands of partiers jammed Sydney Harbor to watch fireworks and a laser show.

Temple bells, ship’s whistles and fireworks welcomed the Year of the Sheep in Tokyo. Millions of Japanese headed for shrines to pray for success. Others gathered around bonfires at neighborhood shrines to drink sake, or rice wine.

Night spots in Beijing reverberated with rap music, love songs and rock’n’roll. Many Chinese spent New Year’s Eve quietly with friends or relatives, eating special dinners and playing mah-jong into the early hours.

China’s major new year holiday comes Feb. 15 - the Chinese Lunar New Year. But most Beijing residents will take off from work Tuesday and Wednesday, when banks, most shops and government offices will be closed.

In Spain, a television electrician accidentally broke the legendary clock that rings in the Spanish New Year in Madrid’s popular Puerta del Sol square. But it was fixed in time for the arrival of 1991.

At midnight on New Year’s Eve, Spaniards seek good luck by swallowing one grape with each of the 12 chimes of the 123-year-old clock - either gulping the grapes during a huge party in the square or while watching the live TV or radio broadcast.

For the first time since the early 19th century, north Dublin in Ireland was without the New Year bells of St. George’s Church, whose chimes were heard by Leopold and Molly Bloom in James Joyce’s ″Ulysses.″ The church was closed in 1990 and its bells sold to a suburban church.

Dublin’s New Year was ushered in with a peal of ″Grandsire Triples″ by the ringers of Christ Church Cathedral, with the 12 strokes of midnight tolled on the tenor bell by ringing master Leslie Taylor.

Albanian President Ramiz Alia said Monday night he believed 1991 would be a turning point for Albania, and appealed for unity and order as the Communist- led country moved out of its isolation toward democratization. His New Year message was broadcast on Albanian radio.

On Israel army radio, Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir sent Bush New Year’s greetings that wished him victory in the gulf, ″to free the Middle East from the threat of tyranny and aggression.″

The mood was somber in Pakistan after Islamic fundamentalists denounced New Year’s Eve celebrations as a product of the decadent West.

A group calling itself ″The Tigers of Allah″ strung banners throughout the city of Karachi, emblazoned with skull-and-crossbone insignias and the warning: ″Beware.″

Fundamentalists demanded there be no dancing, drinking or mingling with the opposite sex at parties. Threats prompted all the city’s hotels to cancel their festivities.

In Manila, Philippine police went on alert and hospitals expected casualties from fireworks and the firing of illegal weapons.

Germans began their first year in decades under one nation, and Chancellor Helmut Kohl urged support for Soviet reforms to maintain peace on the continent.

″No one has a bigger interest in that than we Germans in the heart of Europe,″ Kohl said in a New Year’s Eve speech.

Germany has been the staunchest European supporter of Soviet President Mikhail S. Gorbachev, whom Germans largely credit with helping eliminate the major obstacles to unification.

In a message on Soviet television, Kohl extended ″heartfelt greetings and our good wishes″ to the Soviet people for the New Year.

Gorbachev said Monday in his New Year’s address to the Soviet people, ″The passing year was one of the most difficult in our history.

″Crisis phenomena in economics, the lowering of people’s personal safety, a weakening of order and discipline affected the conditions of life,″ he said in the speech to be broadcast nationwide just before midnight.

In a message to Americans, the Soviet president welcomed February’s summit with President Bush and said there was ″no more danger of nuclear catastrophe.″

But, he added, ″much has not been completed,″ including a resolution to the crisis caused by Iraq’s Aug. 2 invasion of Kuwait.

In a videotaped greeting to ″all the wonderful people of the Soviet Union,″ Bush saluted Gorbachev for undertaking ″an arduous journey″ toward a new society.

The U.S. president, welcoming the Soviets as partners against Iraq, hailed the Soviet-American ″common approach to a new challenge in the name of stability and peace.″

Bush said he was thrilled about the warmth developing between ordinary Soviet and American citizens as a result of the relaxation of tensions.

French President Francois Mitterrand, in his New Year’s Eve address, also urged Iraq to withdraw from Kuwait and the world to help settle outstanding Middle East disputes, including the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

In the Persian Gulf, celebrations were low-key as troops focused on Jan. 15, the U.N. deadline for Iraq to leave conquered Kuwait or face possible use of force.

Iraqis welcomed 1991 with parties and bands in major hotels and nightspots in Baghdad, but most stayed home and celebrations were subdued.

In Tokyo, Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu marked the start of the 50th anniversary year of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor with a call for reflection.

″It is important to make clear to the United States and the world that Japan is determined never again to wage a war of aggression,″ Kaifu told Japanese reporters in a news conference taped for a New Year’s Day television broadcast.

Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, brought the United States into World War II. Japan surrendered on Aug. 15, 1945.

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