Blair begins stint as peace envoy
JERUSALEM — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair opened his mission yesterday to help Palestinians build solid foundations for their future state, offering ideas to Israeli leaders that are designed to stabilize the shaky government of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Mr. Blair arrived in Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. His limited mandate from the Quartet powers — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — is to help the Palestinians lay the groundwork for statehood.
Parliament suspends Saddam supporter
LONDON — The British Parliament's lower house yesterday suspended a lawmaker accused of concealing his financial dealings with Saddam Hussein's government.
George Galloway, known for his fierce opposition to Britain's role in the invasion of Iraq, was suspended for 18 days after an investigation found that a charity he set up was partly funded by the Iraqi dictator.
Mr. Galloway, who also faces a criminal investigation by Scotland Yard, accused his opponents of hypocrisy.
Objections raised to EU reforms
BRUSSELS — Poland raised fresh objections yesterday to a major EU package of reforms meant to replace the bloc's failed constitution and end two years of political turmoil.
At a meeting to begin a key conference on finalizing the European Union's new reform treaty, Polish Foreign Minister Anna Fotyga told her colleagues that Poland was considering opting out of the bloc's Charter of Fundamental Rights.
Pilot dies in bid for speed record
BASEL — A veteran pilot trying to break a speed record was killed yesterday when his small, experimental plane crashed into an apartment building and playground. Six persons on the ground were slightly injured, authorities said.
The crash occurred shortly after the single-engine plane took off from EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, across the border in France. It plowed through the attic of an apartment building in northwestern Basel before crashing and erupting into flames on a playground.
Last king dies in homeland
KABUL — Mohammad Zahir Shah, the last king of Afghanistan who returned from three decades of exile to bless his war-battered country's fragile course toward democracy, died yesterday, President Hamid Karzai said. He was 92.
Weak though well-meaning during his 40-year reign, Mr. Zahir was a symbol of yearned-for peace and unity in a nation struggling to emerge from the turmoil that began with his 1973 ouster in a palace coup.
Kosovo warned to delay split
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Kosovo officials not to declare independence unilaterally and to continue with diplomatic efforts, the State Department said yesterday.
The meeting between Miss Rice and officials from the breakaway province opened yesterday, after the U.N. Security Council set aside a resolution that would have led to a break from Serbia by the ethnic Albanian province.
From wire dispatches and staff reports