- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

CUBA
Official demands return of boat and defectors
HAVANA A high-ranking official demanded yesterday that Washington return four members of Cuba's coast guard and the patrol boat they used to defect to the United States last week.
"The United States has to return the boat and the men," National Assembly President Ricardo Alarcon told the media in the first official reaction to the incident.
On Friday, the armed coast guard officers and men appeared with their patrol boat at the Florida resort of Key West and asked for asylum.

IRAN
Stay out of politics, top dissident is told
TEHRAN A hard-line Iranian official told the country's foremost clerical dissident yesterday that he should stay out of politics now that his house arrest had been lifted, the official IRNA news agency reported.
"Montazeri should not interfere in political issues. He can continue his classes and his other activities," a senior cleric was quoted as saying.
Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri emerged undaunted from five years of house arrest and quickly resumed his criticism of Iran's ruling clerical establishment.

COLOMBIA
Rebels say far right used bombed club
BOGOTA Colombian Marxist rebels said yesterday the exclusive Bogota club wrecked by a blast that killed 32 persons was frequented by far-right paramilitary outlaws.
The statement posted on the Internet did not claim responsibility for Friday's explosion. But the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia often outlines justification for bombings before later acknowledging it carried them out.
"Inside the luxurious club politicians and businessmen often met with spokesmen for the paramilitaries," said the statement on the FARC Web site (www.redresistencia.org).
A car bomb blew up in a third-story Club Nogal parking garage Friday evening, when the complex was hosting events including a wedding reception, a girls' ballet presentation and a children's party.


SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO
Presidential vote fails due to low turnout
PODGORICA, Serbia and Montenegro Montenegro failed to elect a president yesterday for the second time in three months because turnout was below the 50 percent legal minimum, monitors said.
The Center for Monitoring Elections said 47.1 percent of the electorate cast votes. The turnout was even lower in the Dec. 22 election at 45.9 percent.
CEMI Director Zlatko Vujovic told a news conference that Filip Vujanovic, candidate of the main ruling party and the front-runner, won the support of 81.7 percent of those who voted, while the rest of the votes were shared among eight other candidates.

SIERRA LEONE
Rebels accept talks in 3-year-old crisis
FREETOWN Rebels fighting to oust Liberian President Charles Taylor have agreed to talks with the government to end a three-year crisis peacefully, West African parliamentarians said yesterday.
The decision followed three days of talks in Sierra Leone among the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy rebels (LURD), West African legislators and civil society groups from Liberia and neighboring Sierra Leone.
"LURD has agreed to commit itself to the peaceful resolution of the crisis within this year, 2003," said a statement from West Africa's new regional parliament.
"LURD has agreed to a dialogue with the government of Liberia at a place and time to be arranged and facilitated by the [Economic Community of West African States] parliament, the Inter-religious council of Liberia and other international agencies," the statement said.

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