BRIEFS

BRIEFS

AIRBUS CLOSES IN ON SALES

TO US, LATIN AIRLINESPARIS - The European Airbus consortium is close to selling 180 airliners in two big contracts, with United Airlines and three Latin American airlines, La Tribune newspaper reported Thursday.

The total value of the two deals was put at about $6.5 billion.

Airbus will soon conclude a sale of 50 airliners to United Airlines and the sale of 130 more to a group of three Latin American companies, the economic daily reported.

La Tribune said three airlines - TAM of Brazil, Lanchile of Chile and Taca of El Salvador - had formed a consortium to buy medium-range airliners. It said they might order 130 aircraft and that they were believed to prefer Airbus.

JAPANESE LEADER: SURPLUS

MUST BE RECTIFIED

TOKYO - Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto said Thursday it is necessary for the country to rectify its growing trade surplus.

''The rise of exports and the currency rate (the weak yen) helped (expand the surplus) but I think it needs to be rectified,'' Mr. Hashimoto told a regular press conference.

The Finance Ministry announced earlier Thursday that Japan's trade surplus in 1997 grew to some $77 billion.

The U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Foley, asked Japan earlier this week to take further steps to reduce its trade surplus with the United States, saying those who assume that nothing needs to be done as long as the U.S. economy remains strong are ''dead wrong.''

KISSINGER TO PUSH

SUPPORT FOR THAILAND

BANGKOK - Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said Thursday he will co-chair a newly established group aimed at building confidence in Thailand and gathering U.S. private-sector support for the country.

Mr. Kissinger described the Thai crisis as being mostly a financial pain and said that there was no alternative to the International Monetary Fund rescue plan.

The other co-chairman of the U.S. Corporate Campaign for Thailand group will be former Thai Premier Anand Panyarachun, Mr. Kissinger told a gathering of nearly 1,000 Thai and foreign businessmen.