- The Washington Times - Monday, July 21, 2008

SPAIN

Basque separatists claim bomb attacks

LAREDO | Five bombs exploded in northern Spain Sunday, causing damage but no injuries, officials said. A person claiming to be speaking on behalf of the Basque separatist group ETA had phoned in warnings about four of the bombs.

The first detonated without warning around 5 a.m. outside a bank in the Basque town of Getxo, damaging a cash dispenser and breaking windows, the regional Interior Ministry said in Bilbao.

ETA, considered a terrorist group by Spain, the European Union and the United States, has been fighting since 1968 for an independent Basque homeland in northern Spain and western France. The group declared a cease-fire in March 2006, but grew frustrated at the lack of progress in peace talks with the government.

FRANCE

Sarkozy set for chilly Irish welcome

PARIS | French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces a potentially hostile audience in Dublin Monday when he visits to “listen and understand” the reasons Irish voters rejected the EU reform treaty in a referendum last month.

Mr. Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating European Union presidency, has the task of finding a way out of the crisis sparked by the Irish vote, which sank hopes of adopting a major treaty intended to fix the bloc’s unwieldy decision-making processes.

Mr. Sarkozy’s visit has been overshadowed by a furor over a remark he reportedly made at a closed-door meeting with French lawmakers that the Irish would have to vote again on the treaty.

SERBIA

Minister softens Kosovo boycott

BELGRADE | Serbia’s foreign minister announced plans Sunday to reinstate the country’s ambassadors to EU countries that recognized Kosovo’s independence.

The aim is to improve relations between Serbia’s new pro-Western government and the European Union, because Belgrade hopes to eventually join the 27-nation bloc, Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said.

Twenty EU countries, including Britain, France, Germany and Italy, recognized Kosovo’s statehood after it declared independence from Serbia on Feb. 17, over Belgrade’s fierce objections. Serbia’s government responded by recalling its envoys from those countries.

The plan does not include reinstating ambassadors to non-EU countries, including the United States and Japan, which also recognized Kosovo’s independence.

TURKEY

Captive German tourists freed

ANKARA | Three German tourists kidnapped by the Kurdish separatist movement known as the PKK earlier this month have been found abandoned by their captors on a hillside in eastern Turkey, officials said Sunday.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the three, part of a 13-member climbing team seized on Mount Ararat near the Iranian border, were now in the care of staff at the German Embassy in Ankara.

The PKK, which has been fighting since 1984 for an independent Kurdish homeland in southeast Turkey, said it had seized the tourists in protest against what it called Berlin’s recent hostile actions against Kurdish separatists.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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