- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 4, 2004

FRANCE

Arafat suffers setback in hospital

PARIS — The condition of Yasser Arafat, in a French hospital for treatment of an unidentified ailment, has deteriorated significantly over the past day, Palestinian officials said early today.

The officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the 75-year-old Palestinian leader has taken a turn for the worst, adding that doctors still don’t know the cause.

Mohammed Dahlan, a former Palestinian security chief in Paris with a group of Arafat aides, denied that Mr. Arafat’s condition has worsened. “The president’s condition is stable,” he told reporters.

Earlier yesterday, he felt well enough to ask about the U.S. presidential election, said Leila Shahid, the Palestinian envoy to France.

AFGHANISTAN

Karzai declared official winner

KABUL — Hamid Karzai officially was declared Afghanistan’s first popularly elected president yesterday after a weeks-long fraud probe found no reason to overturn his landslide victory.

While the U.S.-backed leader made an immediate call for unity, his closest rivals — led by former Education Minister Younus Qanooni — refused to concede, undermining hope for political stability in a country racked by ethnic mistrust.

The United Nations-sponsored electoral board, confirming the results of the Oct. 9 vote, said Mr. Karzai had won a five-year term with 55.4 percent, 39 percentage points more than his nearest rival. The United States, Britain, Germany and France congratulated Mr. Karzai.

JAPAN

U.S. deserter given 30-day sentence

CAMP ZAMA — A U.S. soldier who deserted to North Korea four decades ago was given 30 days’ confinement yesterday and a dishonorable discharge, after pleading guilty in a court-martial held at the Army’s Camp Zama near Tokyo.

The sentencing of Sgt. Charles Robert Jenkins was the climax to one of the Cold War’s strangest dramas and resolved a diplomatic headache for the United States and its close ally, Japan, which had sought leniency out of sympathy for his Japanese wife. They married after she was abducted to North Korea in 1978.

SOUTH KOREA

Liaison office planned in North

SEOUL — South Korea plans to open its first liaison office in North Korea next year, a South Korean official said yesterday — an unprecedented move that would station officials in what is still technically an enemy state.

Park Yang-soo, president of the state-run Korea Resources Corp., said he would visit Pyongyang next month to discuss the plan and ways to cooperate with the North, which has big mineral deposits but lacks cash and technology to exploit them.

ISRAEL

Parliament approves payments to settlers

JERUSALEM — Israel’s parliament gave preliminary approval yesterday to compensation payments for Jews living in Gaza and four West Bank settlements, clearing a major hurdle in Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate 25 settlements next year.

Mr. Sharon’s “disengagement plan” has been strongly supported by the United States, Europe and most Israelis, but it has divided Mr. Sharon’s own Likud Party.

The compensation bill must pass two more votes before becoming law. The government plans to complete the legislation by Dec. 31.

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