EU lifts sanctions against Libya
The European Union on Monday ended 12 years of sanctions against Libya and eased an arms embargo to reward the North African country for giving up plans to develop weapons of mass destruction.
The decision by the EU foreign ministers brought the 25-nation bloc in line with a U.N. decision last year and reflected a significant warming of relations in recent months.
The U.N. sanctions were imposed in 1992 to force Tripoli to hand over two Libyans indicted for the 1988 bombing of an American airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie. A year later, they were expanded to include a freeze on Libyan assets in foreign bank accounts and a ban on buying oil equipment.
The Security Council suspended the sanctions after the two Lockerbie suspects were delivered for trial in 1999, and abolished them last year after Libya agreed to compensate the families of the Lockerbie victims as well as those of the 1989 bombing of a French airliner over Niger.
Key challenger drops election boycott
President Hamid Karzai's main challenger Monday backed off a boycott of Afghanistan's landmark election about allegations of fraud, saying he would accept the formation of an independent commission to look into any irregularities in the vote.
German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, the first foreign leader to visit since Saturday's election, all but declared Karzai the winner before a single ballot was counted.
The announcement by ethnic Tajik candidate Yunus Qanooni that he would accept the formation of the election commission followed similar statements Sunday by Massooda Jalal, the only female presidential hopeful, and ethnic Hazara candidate Mohammed Mohaqeq.
Qanooni said he made his decision after a meeting with U.N. representative Jean Arnault and U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
Yukos ordered to pay part of 2001 tax claim
The Moscow Arbitration Court ruled Monday that the embattled oil giant Yukos must pay $1.34 billion in fines and penalties as part of a $4.1 billion back-tax claim for 2001, Russian news agencies said.
The decision was the latest of many to go against Yukos during a more than yearlong legal campaign against the company and its former chief executive, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. His ongoing trial on tax and fraud charges is expected to drag on for months, and analysts expect more claims against the company he built to follow, eventually pushing the final bill to well beyond $10 billion for 2000-2003.
Yukos officials have repeatedly warned that the vast tax bills could drive the company into bankruptcy unless compromises were reached, such as allowing it an extended payment schedule for the arrears.
Strike shuts down commercial activity
As world oil prices hit new highs, Nigeria's biggest labor federation launched a four-day nationwide strike Monday to protest the rising cost of fuel at home, shutting down huge swaths of Lagos, the country's largest city and its commercial center.
There was no immediate impact on the flow of oil from this volatile West African nation, which is Africa's largest oil producer and a major source of U.S. oil imports.
Union militants smashed car windows to keep people home in Lagos, and the streets were nearly empty of traffic except for soldiers and anti-riot police in armored vehicles. Banks and stores remained shuttered.
There was only partial compliance with the strike call in Abuja, the capital, and some other cities, where many shops opened and taxis cruised the streets.