African leaders support embargo, sanctions
African leaders backed an arms embargo and other immediate U.N. sanctions against Ivory Coast on Sunday, isolating President Laurent Gbagbo's hard-line government even further in its deadly confrontation with its former colonial ruler, France.
Presidents from Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso, Togo and Gabon, meeting in the Nigerian capital of Abuja, on Sunday backed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an arms embargo, a travel ban and asset freezes against anyone blocking peace in Ivory Coast.
The arms embargo "should be immediate," Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo -- the current African Union chairman -- told journalists after the meeting at the presidential wing of Abuja's airport. The call gives African approval to a tough stand in today's expected Security Council vote on the sanctions.
The French-led evacuation of Westerners from Ivory Coast is building to one of Africa's largest.
U.S. shifts on Sudan, seeks aid-for-peace deal
The Bush administration is pressing the United Nations to reward Sudan with a major package of international debt relief and reconstruction funds if the Islamic state signs a peace deal ending a brutal, 20-year civil war in southern Sudan by the end of the year.
Sudan has not complied with Security Council demands over three months to disarm, arrest and prosecute Arab militia responsible for the mass murder of black Africans in the eastern province of Darfur, according to U.S. and U.N. officials. The United States has described the campaign as genocide.
The offer of financial aid marks a strategy shift by the United States, which had sought international support for two U.N. resolutions threatening to sanction Sudan if it failed to crack down on the militia, known as the Janjaweed. John Danforth, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that although the threat of sanctions stands, the Security Council meeting on Thursday and Friday in Nairobi, Kenya, would focus more on the "carrot" than the "stick."
Currency exchange heats up before deadline
Cubans and tourists lined up to change U.S. dollars into local currency Sunday, the last day to do so without paying a 10 percent surcharge that is part of a government measure to eliminate the dollar from circulation on this communist-run island.
As of last week, dollars no longer were accepted at Cuban stores, restaurants, hotels or other businesses. The 10 percent surcharge taking effect today is meant to further discourage people from bringing currency from Cuba's No. 1 enemy to the island.
Cubans, who can still hold the American currency, are believed to have been hoarding several hundred million dollars at home, most of it money received from relatives in the United States.