- The Washington Times - Monday, January 17, 2005

AFGHANISTAN

80 prisoners freed from U.S. custody

KABUL — The U.S. military freed about 80 Afghan prisoners yesterday, and the country’s most senior judge said the government was negotiating the release of hundreds more from American custody.

Two buses brought the prisoners from the main U.S. base at Bagram to the Supreme Court in the capital, Kabul, where they were received by Afghanistan’s chief justice, Fazl Hadi Shinwari.

CROATIA

Stipe Mesic wins new presidential term

ZAGREB — President Stipe Mesic, 70, who is credited with leading his country out of isolation after the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s, was overwhelmingly elected to a second term yesterday in a runoff vote.

Prime Minister Ivo Sanader acknowledged that Mr. Mesic had won and said he would congratulate the incumbent after the Electoral Commission releases official results.

IRAN

Ministry is confident after IAEA search

TEHRAN — Iran said yesterday that environmental samples taken from a military complex this weekend by nuclear inspectors from the United Nations will prove the country’s atomic program is for peaceful purposes.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency took samples from areas of the huge Parchin complex, which Washington thinks may be involved in nuclear-weapons research.

RUSSIA

Pensioners protest in Putin’s home city

ST. PETERSBURG — Protests by retirees over the loss of welfare benefits swept President Vladimir Putin’s home city for the second day yesterday and spread to other regions.

About 1,000 pensioners, most of them elderly, blocked traffic in the city’s central Nevsky Prospect, waving red flags and chanting slogans calling on Mr. Putin to step down. Dozens of police stood by but did not intervene.

The protests were triggered by a Jan. 1 law giving retirees, the disabled and war veterans cash stipends instead of benefits.

ROMANIA

Woman, 66, is called world’s oldest mother

BUCHAREST — A 66-year-old Romanian woman gave birth to a baby girl yesterday after years of fertility treatment and was described by Romanian press to be the world’s oldest mother.

Adriana Iliescu, a university professor and author of children’s books, had been pregnant with twin girls. One died in the womb, and doctors performed a Caesarean section in the 33rd week of pregnancy to save the other.

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