- The Washington Times - Monday, July 30, 2007


French envoy meets with faction leaders

BEIRUT — Some rival Lebanese leaders met face to face for the first time in months during a lunch at the French Embassy in Beirut yesterday, the only tangible result of a three-day mediation visit by France’s foreign minister.

Bernard Kouchner said the lunch signaled a new phase in French efforts to resolve Lebanon’s eight-month-old political crisis and the start of dialogue between the Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition.

He said the leaders engaged with one another but much more needed to be done before a breakthrough could be reached. He said he might return to Beirut in the second half of August.


Iraq troop extension remains in question

WARSAW — Poland has not decided whether to extend its military mission in Iraq beyond the end of the year, the president said yesterday.

“It depends on a lot of factors, above all on how the situation there is going to develop and how our cooperation with the United States is going to shape up,” President Lech Kaczynski said.

Poland, a staunch U.S. ally, contributed troops to the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and has since led a multinational division south of Baghdad. About 900 Polish troops are stationed there training Iraqi personnel.


First lady on track for first-round win

BUENOS AIRES — Argentina’s first lady, Sen. Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, is likely to win in the first round of October’s presidential election despite government setbacks, according to opinion polls and political analysts’ comments published yesterday.

A powerful senator, Mrs. Kirchner has drawn more than 40 percent of voter support for months, although corruption charges against government officials, along with energy shortages and inflation, were seen hurting her politically.

Leading newspaper Clarin published three polls yesterday showing Mrs. Kirchner with between 44 percent and 47.8 percent support, while her two closest contenders attracted between 8.4 percent and 18.1 percent.

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