- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 13, 2005

GERMANY

Merkel pledges to boost economy

BERLIN — Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel pledged yesterday that her new government would work to reverse Germany’s troubled economy and not shrink from “doing what we consider right,” despite criticism of plans to raise taxes.

Mrs. Merkel — poised to become Germany’s first female chancellor — presented the 143-page coalition accord that her conservative colleagues reached Friday with the liberal Social Democrats after weeks of talks. Their alliance is Germany’s first “grand coalition” of the nation’s two biggest parties since 1969.

Germany struggles with an unemployment rate of 11 percent, a chronically sluggish economy and a cradle-to-grave system of welfare benefits that it can no longer afford.

PAKISTAN

Quake children get vaccinations

MUZAFFARABAD — Health authorities yesterday began a two-week campaign to immunize 800,000 children in divided Kashmir to prevent infectious disease from thriving in the crowded and sometimes squalid tent camps for earthquake survivors.

U.N. and Pakistani health officials spearheading the immunization drive in Pakistan’s portion of Kashmir are racing to protect children before the region’s savage winter strikes, starting in the most remote towns hit by the Oct. 8 quake that killed tens of thousands of people and working their way toward larger hubs.

The campaign aims to vaccinate children up to age 15 against diseases including measles, polio, diphtheria and tetanus. Shots will include vitamin A, which can reduce the mortality rate of respiratory illnesses expected to be rife in winter.

AZERBAIJAN

President scoffs at revolution threat

BAKU — President Ilham Aliev dismissed the possibility of a revolution in his former Soviet republic after disputed elections, saying that people were satisfied with his government and the opposition was too weak to pose a challenge.

The president’s party won more seats than any other, retaining its grip on parliament, according to official results from Nov. 6 elections that international observers said fell short of democratic standards.

The opposition, seeking to emulate the protests that have forced change in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan during the past two years, has demanded new elections and is mounting a series of rallies.

AFGHANISTAN

Election tally done; terrorists attack again

KABUL ? The results of Afghanistan’s landmark legislative elections were finalized yesterday after eight weeks of counting slowed by allegations of fraud, and observers said supporters of President Hamid Karzai appeared to be in the majority.

In the latest violence, meanwhile, terrorists pulled a deputy provincial governor from his car and fatally shot him before killing a former district chief while he prayed in a mosque.

Three policemen also were killed as the country’s death toll from fighting neared 1,500 for the year, including 86 U.S. troops, the deadliest since the Taliban’s ouster in 2001.

CUBA

Scientist barred from U.S. conference

HAVANA — A Cuban scientist who helped develop a low-cost synthetic vaccine that prevents meningitis and pneumonia in small children says he was offended the U.S. government denied his request to travel to the United States to receive an award.

Vicente Verez-Bencomo was to accept the award recognizing his team’s technological achievement during a Wednesday ceremony at the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, Calif. He also had been invited to address a gathering of the Society for Glycobiology in Boston on Friday.

Mr. Verez-Bencomo said the State Department denied him a visa because the visit would be “detrimental to the interests of the United States.” U.S. officials refused to comment.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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