- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 28, 2006

RUSSIA

Envoy urges Kremlin to prove transparency

MOSCOW — U.S. Ambassador William Burns urged Russia yesterday to use the Group of Eight summit it will host in July to show it is dedicated to creating a transparent economy and strong democratic institutions.

His comments came amid debate by G-8 nations over whether Russia deserves to lead the organization this year because of concerns Moscow is backsliding on democracy and returning key economic sectors to state control under President Vladimir Putin.

The G-8 summit “is an opportunity for Russia to try and demonstrate a sense of direction in creating modern economic institutions and making clear that the investment climate here in the energy and non-energy sectors is predictable and transparent,” Mr. Burns told Interfax news agency and the U.S. Embassy confirmed.

BRITAIN

Blair’s eldest son to be House intern

Euan Blair, 22, the British prime minister’s eldest son, will be thrust in at “the deep end” of Washington’s political and social life when he begins life as an intern in Congress tomorrow.

Protected by Capitol Police security agents, he will start work at the House offices of the powerful Rules Committee, run by Rep. David Dreier, a California Republican, answering the phone, making photocopies, filing documents and similar chores.

On Tuesday, he will witness one of the great fixtures on the Washington political calendar: the president’s State of the Union address, in which President Bush outlines his goals for the coming year.

London’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper opined young Mr. Blair is likely to find more doors opening for him than for the average Washington intern. Mr. Bush and first lady Laura Bush are expected to play host to him at the White House, and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, New York Democrat, who remains close to the Blairs and resides not far from the British Embassy, is also expected to meet him.

GERMANY

Michael Jackson makes surprise visit

HAMBURG — Pop icon Michael Jackson, 47, has arrived for a surprise visit to see a friend he first met on a German television show in 1995, the Bild tabloid reported yesterday.

Police cordoned off the home of his 23-year-old host, the paper said, to guarantee their safety as fans flocked to the neighborhood to catch a glimpse of the singer, who arrived Thursday with his son Michael Joseph, publicly known as “Prince,” and daughter Paris-Michael Katherine.

It was not known how long the American singer would stay in Hamburg, said Bild, adding that he had made reservations on flights to Munich in southern Germany, as well as to Paris and Venice.

Weekly notes …

Spanish police have arrested six persons in Spain and shut down 62 international Internet “communities” that exchanged child pornography, the Interior Ministry announced yesterday. In a nearly yearlong probe, they detected the Web connections of 2,870 Internet users in 40 countries who distributed pictures and videos of children through online “communities” of purported pedophiles. … France is sending 400 more troops into the fight against mosquitoes that are spreading a crippling and incurable disease across the Indian Ocean island of Reunion, Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said yesterday. He spoke after Overseas Territories Minister Francois Baroin told Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin the number of reported cases of “chikungunya” rose to 30,000 since it broke out 10 months ago.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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