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Archive for Monday, April 18, 2005

Briefly

April 18, 2005

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India

Peace progresses along Pakistan border

Showing a flexibility that moves their peace process several steps ahead, the leaders of India and Pakistan agreed Sunday on measures to increase business ties and cross-border travel and roll back some of their military deployment along the frontier.

On the second day of a three-day visit to India that has mixed cricket with diplomacy, Pakistan President Gen. Pervez Musharraf held two hours of talks in New Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on issues that have bedeviled relations for decades.

The two sides agreed to revive a joint commission to boost business ties and discussed opening more trade routes and potential pipelines to bring gas from Iran or Turkmenistan to India via Pakistan, Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran said. A rail route linking the Indian state of Rajasthan with Pakistan's Sindh province will become operational by December, he said.

Cyprus

New Turk leader seeks reunification

A pro-European Union candidate was elected president of the breakaway Turkish Cypriot state on Sunday, voted into office by Turkish Cypriots frustrated by decades of international isolation and a stagnant economy.

Mehmet Ali Talat's victory signaled the end of the rule of Rauf Denktash, the hard-liner who has dominated the enclave's politics for three decades. Talat won 56 percent of the vote for president of the self-declared Turkish Cypriot state, while his main rival, Dervis Eroglu, polled just 23 percent.

"I want to underline again that Turkish Cypriots are calling for reunification and EU membership," Talat said after his victory was announced. "I am also calling on the Greek Cypriot leaders that I am extending my hand for peace and this hand will be there until it is held. I sincerely believe that one day this hand will be held."

The island has been split into Turkish and Greek Cypriot sectors since the Turkish invasion in 1974. Last year, the island joined the European Union, but EU benefits only apply to the Greek south.

Paris

Death toll rises in fire

Firefighters sorting through the debris of a burned-out Paris hotel found the body of a small child Sunday, raising the number killed in Friday's blaze to 22, police said. Half of the victims were children.

The fire at the Paris Opera hotel, housing mostly people in need who were placed there by social services, was Paris' worst in recent memory. A 1973 blaze in an eastern Paris school killed 20 people, 16 of them students.

Two associations that work with immigrants and the needy, Right to Housing and Rights First, called for a demonstration today in front of the hotel to denounce "the scandalous treatment the government reserves for the poor and the needy."

Social services have relocated the survivors to another hotel in a Paris suburb.

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