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Archive for Friday, June 20, 2003

Briefly

June 20, 2003

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Paris

French police detain Iranian protesters

Paris police rounded up nearly 100 members of an Iranian exile group Thursday to stop them from setting fire to themselves in protest of a French crackdown on their organization.

One woman who burned herself a day before died of her injuries, officials said.

Three people from the group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, doused themselves with flammable liquid and set themselves on fire Thursday in Europe -- two in Rome and one in Bern, Switzerland. That raised the group's number of self-immolations to seven, even as its leaders appealed for a halt to the practice.

The Mujahedeen Khalq has been protesting in the streets of Paris and other European cities since French police mounted raids Tuesday on their headquarters and other offices.

Pakistan

U.S. plans to boost aid

President Bush is expected to announce next week a big aid package for Pakistan worth billions of dollars. It is designed to reward Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf for his cooperation in the war against terrorism and to try to counter the anti-American sentiment driving a surge in support for Islamic radicals.

The package, which would restore Pakistan to its Cold War-era status as the largest recipient of U.S. aid after Israel and Egypt, would be a reflection of the continued importance the Bush administration places on its relationship with Musharraf and his cooperation in the hunt for al-Qaida members still believed to be hiding in Pakistan, officials say.

Details of the deal are being worked out ahead of Bush's June 24 summit with Musharraf at Camp David, Md. Pakistani officials say they expect it to be worth at least $4 billion spread over several years. U.S. officials say only that it will be "large."

Rwanda

Congo government, rebels OK cease-fire

The Congolese government and two rebel factions agreed to halt fighting in an eastern region and pull back from newly occupied areas Thursday, hours after a battle for a key town there killed dozens of people.

The cease-fire was signed in neighboring Burundi by the Congolese government, the Rwandan-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy, and the government-allied Congolese Rally for Democracy-ML.

Fighting began Wednesday in Lubero, which is 100 miles north of Goma and about halfway to Bunia, where fighting among tribal militia has killed 500 people, mainly civilians, since May.

A French-led international emergency force is in Bunia to protect civilians and curb the violence after 700 U.N. troops stationed there did not intervene. Uruguay said Thursday it would deploy another 190 troops as part of the multinational force.

Liberia

Thousands of refugees try to flee on ship

Thousands of frantic West African nationals struggled Thursday to board a refugee ship out of war-devastated Liberia -- desperate to leave despite a day-old truce with rebels fighting to drive out President Charles Taylor.

Taylor's government appeared to retreat further from his pledge to cede power as part of the truce accord. Information Minister Reginald Goodridge rejected the idea of any "unceremonial departure" by the Liberian warlord-turned-president.

At Monrovia's port, thousands of residents of Ghana crowded Thursday through a fenced-in entrance to board a boat sent by their home country to evacuate some of its nationals. Hundreds of Liberians scaled barbed-wire-topped walls to try to press aboard the ship as well.

Greece

EU leaders discuss Mideast, constitution

Guarded by attack helicopters, warships and thousands of troops, European leaders gathered Thursday at a secluded seaside resort for a three-day summit to discuss Middle East peace, illegal immigration and the contentious draft of a first-ever European Union constitution.

The summit was moved from Thessaloniki, Greece's second-largest city, to Porto Carras because of fears about anti-globalization protests. Thousands of protesters gathered at a government-erected tent city in Thessaloniki for a massive demonstration planned for today.

The summit's packed agenda reflects the many problems facing the 15-nation EU as it prepares to welcome 10 new members, mostly former communist countries, next May. Those problems include the need to heal the wounds in trans-Atlantic relations after key countries such as France and Germany refused to back the U.S.-British war in Iraq.

London

In vitro baby conceived to help save sibling

A British couple have had a baby by in vitro fertilization, seeking an exact tissue match to help their first son who is seriously ill with a blood ailment, a hospital confirmed Thursday.

Jayson and Michelle Whitaker resorted to fertility treatments in the United States after British authorities had barred the couple from having a test tube baby who would have been a genetic match for their ill son Charlie.

Michelle gave birth to Jamie Monday at a hospital in Sheffield, northern England.

He was conceived through in vitro fertilization and genetically matched, while still an embryo, to his 4-year-old brother Charlie, who suffers from diamond blackfan anemia.

The blood in Jamie's umbilical cord contains bone marrow stem cells that could be used to treat his big brother.

United Nations

U.S. seeks opposition of N. Korea nukes

The United States wants the U.N. Security Council to condemn North Korea's nuclear weapons program and demand its immediate and permanent destruction, according to a draft American document obtained Thursday by The Associated Press.

U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte discussed the draft Wednesday with diplomats from Russia, Britain and France, and Thursday with Chinese diplomats, council diplomats said.

On April 9 the council refused to act on a U.S. request to condemn North Korea for pulling out of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. There was strong opposition from China and Russia, which have close ties to Pyongyang. China indicated Wednesday it still wanted the issue handled outside the council.

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