- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

FRANCE

Relations broached with North Korea

SEOUL — A French foreign ministry delegation has visited North Korea to discuss developing relations between the two nations, Pyongyang’s state media said yesterday.

France is one of a handful of European Union members yet to forge full diplomatic ties with the communist North.

The French team, which ended its five-day trip on Saturday, was in talks “on the issue of developing the relations between the two countries” and other matters, said the Korean Central News Agency.

BRITAIN

NATO countries urged to help

LONDON — Britain wants some of its NATO allies to start pulling their weight more in Afghanistan, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander said yesterday ahead of crunch talks on the issue.

Germany and France are among the nations which have been criticized for failing to send forces to the areas where fighting is the most intense.

“We’ve made clear to our NATO partners that we do want to see appropriate burden sharing, not simply in terms of the number of troops on the ground, but where those troops are committed within Afghanistan,” Mr. Alexander told the British Broadcasting Corp.

RUSSIA

Chechen rebels kill two policemen

MOSCOW — Two Russian policemen have been killed and a third injured in a clash with rebel fighters in Chechnya, the Russian news agencies Interfax and RIA Novosti reported yesterday.

The violence broke out in a wooded area near the village of Mesedoi, southeast of the provincial capital Grozny, the agencies quoted police sources as saying.

The rebel fighters stole weapons carried by the police, including a machine gun, a sniper’s rifle, submachine guns and grenades, the police sources said.

SPAIN

Madrid complains on bishops’ stance

MADRID — Spain’s government has told the Vatican that it is “surprised and puzzled” by criticism from Spanish bishops who have advised Catholics on how to vote in next month’s election, the press reported yesterday.

Madrid’s envoy to Rome complained to the Vatican after bishops urged Spaniards to vote for parties that do not negotiate with Basque ETA guerrillas — an apparent jibe at the ruling Socialists who held failed peace talks in 2006.

The bishops also criticized the legalization of same-sex “marriage” and the reduced weight of religion in schools, all measures carried out by the Socialists in its attempt to modernize the nominally Catholic but, socially, more liberal country.

MONACO

Elections held for new parliament

MONACO —The principality of Monaco held elections for a new parliament yesterday, with three parties putting up candidates, all with unswerving loyalty to Prince Albert II.

Only a small proportion of Monaco’s 32,000-strong population — 6,324 bona-fide Monegasques — were actually eligible to vote in a country best known for its jet-setting billionaire residents.

The tiny French Rivera state has a single polling station, with just one ballot box. Voters elected the 24 members of the principality’s legislative body, the National Council, for a five-year term.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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