- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 22, 2004

BRITAIN

Blair to seek third term in office

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair, his popularity bruised after leading Britain into a divisive war in Iraq, said he intends to seek a third term in office.

In an interview published today in the News of the World newspaper, Mr. Blair said that “whatever the problems and pressures, this is an immensely enjoyable and fulfilling job and I intend to carry on doing it. I will be putting myself forward.”

An election must be held by mid-2006, but could come next year.

Mr. Blair’s Labor Party was elected in 1997 after 18 years of Conservative rule, and won another landslide victory in 2001. But Mr. Blair’s decision to join the U.S.-led war in Iraq has hurt his popularity, and many Labor lawmakers are unhappy with the government’s plans for reforming public services.

ISRAEL

Palestinians protest security barrier

NABLUS — Thousands of Palestinians protested against Israel’s West Bank barrier yesterday and Israel prepared to remove a small stretch of its wall, two days before the start of World Court hearings on the legality of the structure.

In one of the largest public outpourings of anger over the barrier, Palestinians across the West Bank fired guns in the air and shouted anti-barrier chants — the first of several protests planned to coincide with the opening of hearings on Monday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

PAKISTAN

Security tightened along Afghan border

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has stepped up security along the Afghan border ahead of new operations against al Qaeda and the Taliban in the tribal belt where Osama bin Laden may be hiding, Pakistani military and intelligence sources said yesterday.

The operation will be the fourth of its kind since the September 11 attacks. It would center on suspected Taliban and al Qaeda men who Pakistan believes have married Pakistani women and are living in the tribal areas — the remote and historically autonomous regions that have never really been brought under the control of Pakistan’s central government.

It will be conducted in the Waziristan tribal region in Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier Province, intelligence sources said.

INDIA

Mother Teresa’s successor robbed

DHANBAD — Mother Teresa’s successor, Sister Nirmala, was robbed yesterday by highway bandits during a tour of rural areas in eastern India, police said.

Sister Nirmala was visiting centers run by her order, the Missionaries of Charity, in Jharkhand state when about two dozen bandits began stopping buses and cars and robbing people, said Inspector-General Rajiv Kumar, the state’s police chief.

“They were on a looting spree,” he said.

The nun was traveling with five other persons when the robbery occurred, he said.

CANADA

Dalai Lama to visit in April

MONTREAL — Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will pay a two-week visit to Canada in the spring to discuss the human rights situation in Tibet, the Canada Tibet Committee announced yesterday.

The Dalai Lama was expected to travel to Vancouver, Ottawa and Toronto between April 19 and May 5, said committee president, Thubten Samdup.

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