- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 5, 2007

COLOMBIA

FARC rejects rebel release

BOGOTA — Colombian left-wing rebels Sunday dismissed as a farce a move by President Alvaro Uribe to release about 200 jailed guerrillas in hopes of persuading their commanders to free hostages held for years, including a French-Colombian politician and three Americans.

The response from the FARC reiterated the guerrillas’ long-standing demand for a demilitarized zone as a condition for any talks on liberating hostages held in secret jungle camps in Latin America’s longest-running insurgency.

Authorities said they would still release jailed rebels in an effort to prompt FARC — the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — to respond by freeing about 60 high-profile hostages including French-Colombian Ingrid Betancourt and three U.S. contract workers kidnapped in 2003.

BRAZIL

Emerging giants seek relationship

NEW DELHI — India and Brazil, two of the world’s emerging market giants, sought yesterday to forge a strategic relationship between their distant nations and enhance their role as a strong voice of the developing world.

The two fast-growing economies have come closer based on common positions such as global trade talks and expansion of the U.N. Security Council. Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva began a three-day visit to India on Sunday.

The two countries also are working on a common position to address climate change ahead of the Group of Eight summit in Germany this week.

MEXICO

Poll: Voters support Calderon policies

MEXICO CITY — President Felipe Calderon’s approval rating rose to a sturdy 65 percent in a newspaper poll Friday, and Mexicans resoundingly backed his use of the army to fight violent drug gangs.

An opinion poll published by the Reforma daily gave Mr. Calderon 65 percent approval, up from 58 percent in its last poll in March, and in line with recent surveys elsewhere.

Mr. Calderon’s high ratings are a far cry from six months ago when Mexico was bitterly divided over his razor-thin election victory over a leftist former Mexico City mayor. Friday’s poll gave Mr. Calderon, a conservative, high marks for honesty and leadership.

PANAMA

China refuses blame for poison medicine

BEIJING — China acknowledged that it was misleading for Chinese companies to label an industrial solvent as glycerin but blamed businesses in Panama for the poison turning up in cold medicine there, killing at least 51 persons.

Wei Chuanzhong, a senior official in China’s product- inspection agency, also dismissed concerns about Chinese toothpaste made with the same substance: diethylene glycol.

Panama and at least three other Latin American countries have seized tens of thousands of tubes of Chinese-made toothpaste sold under the brands Excel and Mr. Cool. The United States also halted all imports of Chinese toothpaste.

From wire service and staff reports

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