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Secretary of State James A. Baker III, near-ing the end of his troubled Mideast peace mission, held critical back-to-back meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir on Wednesday.

Israeli radio, without explanation, reported they were putting "understandings" pertaining to the proposed regional peace conference in writing.The report could signal progress in Baker's effort to set up a peace conference.

Another Israeli official, without elaboration, said "something is cooking."

In the Persian Gulf, Iranian officials said Wednesday that Kurdish refugees are now streaming home, and Iraq reported a tentative accord on replacing allied troops in northern Iraq with U.N. police.

The safety guaranteed by the allied force in northern Iraq - as well as the availability of food - are attracting tens of thousands of Kurds who sought refuge in Iran after their failed rebellion, witnesses say.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, Baghdad's ambassador said his country had reached a tentative agreement calling for about 500 lightly armed U.N. police to safeguard Kurdish areas in northern Iraq.

That would allow about 3,300 U.S. troops and other allied forces currently patrolling the "secure zone" to leave.

Meanwhile, Iraqi troops opened fire as a U.S. Army scout helicopter flew past them just outside the allied "security zone" in northern Iraq, officials said Wednesday. But it was not immediately known what they were shooting at.

U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Hopkins said the small OH-58 helicopter's two crew members saw three Iraqi soldiers firing small arms south of Dohuk at about 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Hopkins said, however, that it was not known what the Iraqis were shooting at.