Archive for Friday, December 17, 2004

Briefly - World

December 17, 2004



European Union offers Turkey member talks

European Union leaders agreed Thursday to open negotiations with Turkey next year on eventual EU membership, but the Turkish premier said more talks were needed -- presumably over the contentious issue of Cyprus -- before he could accept the offer.

Despite widespread public opposition, the 25 EU leaders proposed Oct. 3, 2005, as the start date for the talks, which are expected to last for years. Ankara had hoped for a start date in April.

Following a two-hour meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende said no deal had been reached and talks would continue today.

"We realized very big issues are at stake," said Balkenende, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.


Top court condemns holding terror suspects

Britain's highest court on Thursday harshly condemned one of the most hotly disputed elements of the country's anti-terrorist strategy -- a law allowing some foreign suspects to be locked up indefinitely.

The government, however, said 11 suspects in detention under the disputed provision of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act were dangerous and would stay in prison until it decides what to do about the ruling.

Critics had argued that the detentions, some of which have lasted for three years, were a gross human rights violation. In a powerfully worded 8-1 decision, the judges agreed, saying the law is disproportionate and discriminates against immigrants and foreigners.

Saudi Arabia

Security forces deploy to stave off protests

Hundreds of security forces made a show of force in two Saudi cities Thursday to ward off any protests against the royal family, chasing a few would-be demonstrators in the streets and arresting several others, after a dissident called for marches.

The London-based dissident Saad al-Fagih, head of the Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia, had predicted "tens of thousands" of demonstrators would turn out in the capital, Riyadh, and the port city of Jiddah.

Such numbers did not show up, but the threatened show of defiance to the kingdom's ban on protests caused the government to deploy large numbers of security forces, checkpoints and helicopters.


U.N. troops surround Aristide's former estate

Several hundred U.N. troops and Haitian police surrounded the estate of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Thursday in a showdown with a band of former soldiers who seized the abandoned compound.

Haiti's interim government warned that the rebels must leave the estate in the suburb of Tabarre because it belongs to the state, but the men refuse to go.

"The transitional government will take all necessary steps to put an end to this intolerable situation with the assistance of the ... U.N. stabilization force," the government said in a statement issued through the U.N. peacekeeping mission.


Ten convicted in plot to blow up market in 2000

Ten accused Islamic militants were convicted Thursday and sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to 10 years for their roles in a millennium plot to blow up a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg on New Year's Eve 2000.

The suspects -- Algerian nationals and French citizens of Algerian origin who included an alleged associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden -- went on trial in October on charges they were involved in the plot.

They were convicted of criminal association with a terrorist enterprise that state prosecutor Christophe Tessier alleged had links to Islamic networks in Britain, Italy and Spain.


Zaragoza, Spain, named winner of Expo 2008

World's Fair organizers on Thursday awarded Expo 2008 to Zaragoza, Spain, which edged out Trieste, Italy, and Thessaloniki, Greece, to stage the international festival that typically draws millions of visitors from around the globe.

The winner was announced after a secret-ballot vote by delegates to the Paris-based International Exhibitions Bureau, the 95-nation body that oversees world's fairs and various other international exhibitions.

The news was greeted with whoops of joy by hundreds of people who gathered in Zaragoza's emblematic Pilar square to await the decision, which was broadcast live on a giant television screen.

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