- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 3, 2004

ITALY

Economy minister quits in showdown

ROME — Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti was forced to quit yesterday after a showdown with coalition allies, weakening Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi when government accounts face EU scrutiny.

The dramatic resignation followed weeks of infighting within the center-right administration over how to tackle Italy’s fragile economy and contain a growing budget deficit.

Cabinet colleagues said Mr. Tremonti’s exit was sealed at a stormy meeting Friday night, when Deputy Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini threatened to pull his National Alliance party out of the coalition if the economy minister stayed put.

Mr. Fini regularly clashed with Mr. Tremonti in Cabinet meetings and complained that he ran the Treasury like an absolute monarch.

Mr. Berlusconi, who deferred totally to his sharp-tongued minister in economic affairs, took over the Treasury portfolio on an interim basis until he could appoint a replacement.

TURKEY

Chirac curious about Bush talk

ISTANBUL — French President Jacques Chirac has sought to find out why President Bush opted to speak at a Turkish university with close links to France during the recent NATO summit in Istanbul, a Turkish newspaper reported yesterday.

Mr. Chirac asked French diplomats in Turkey to inquire who invited Mr. Bush to speak at the Galatasaray University, to whose budget France contributes about $10 million every year, the university’s deputy leader, Seyfettin Gursel, told the Vatan daily. He said the Turkish Foreign Ministry made the request.

U.S. officials apparently chose the university because of its symbolic location, which offers views over an important Istanbul mosque and a bridge over the Bosporus linking Europe with Asia.

Personal irritation between Mr. Chirac and Mr. Bush surfaced at the NATO summit when the two leaders clashed over Turkey’s bid to join the European Union and U.S. efforts to use a NATO rapid-reaction unit in Afghanistan.

FRANCE

Serial killer leads police to remains

DONCHERY — Police discovered human remains at a French chateau yesterday where a suspected serial killer dubbed the “Ogre of the Ardennes” showed them where to dig.

Investigators spent eight hours digging at two sites near Sautou chateau near the border with Belgium, aided by Michel Fourniret, a 62-year-old forest warden who has confessed to nine murders and his estranged wife.

Police cordoned off Fourniret’s former chateau, over 60 miles northeast of Paris, to search for remains of Elisabeth Brichet, a Belgian who vanished at age 12, and Frenchwoman Jeanne-Marie Desramault, who disappeared at age 22.

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