- The Washington Times - Monday, May 4, 2009

PANAMA

Conservative wins presidential vote

PANAMA CITY | Multimillionaire supermarket chain owner Ricardo Martinelli won Panama’s presidential election Sunday, bucking a trend of left-wing leadership wins in Latin America.

“The tribunal considers you the undisputed winner of this presidential contest,” Erasmo Pinilla, head of the country’s electoral tribunal, told Mr. Martinelli in a telephone call broadcast live by Panamanian TV and radio.

The pro-business conservative candidate was declared the clear victor over Balbina Herrera of the ruling center-left Revolutionary Democratic Party, whose government has struggled to rein in crime and high prices.

With votes counted from more than half of the polling stations, official results showed Mr. Martinelli with 60.63 percent of the votes to 36.85 percent for Ms. Herrera.

JAPAN

Japan, EU discuss North Korea

PRAGUE | Six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programmeould start again as soon as possible, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said Sunday.

Visiting the Czech Republic, which holds the European Union presidency, Mr. Aso said Japan was thankful for the European Union’s unified approach toward North Korea’s nuclear program.

“We decided the six-party talks are the most practical framework for solving the questions around North Korea and that the most important thing is to open these talks again as soon as possible,” he told a news conference after meeting outgoing Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.

North Korea said April 14 that it would quit the six-party talks, which includes South Korea, Japan, Russia, the United States and China.

ITALY

Fiat confirms bid for GM’s Opel

ROME | Fiat Group SpA confirmed Sunday that it was in talks to acquire General Motors’ European operations with the aim of possibly creating a new company to include newly acquired Chrysler LLC.

Combined, the new automaker would have $105 billion in annual revenues, Fiat said.

The statement was issued on the eve of a meeting in Berlin between Fiat Group Chief Executive Officer Sergio Marchionne and the German economy and foreign ministers to discuss Fiat’s offer for GM’s German unit, Opel.

LAOS

Pregnant Briton faces execution

LONDON | Lawyers say a pregnant British woman who faces death by firing squad if she is convicted of drug smuggling could go on trial in Laos on Monday.

Samantha Orobator, 23, has been held in Laos since August, when she was accused of trying to smuggle heroin in her luggage. She is five months pregnant, and the circumstances of her pregnancy remain unclear.

The human rights group Reprieve says Ms. Orobator hasn’t had access to a lawyer yet but it has secured the right to meet with her Tuesday. However, that meeting may take place a day after the trial begins.

IRAN

Fairness pledged in journalist’s trial

TEHRAN | Iran’s foreign minister assured his visiting Japanese counterpart that the case of an American journalist imprisoned in Tehran for allegedly spying for the U.S. will get a fair review on appeal.

Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said 32-year-old Roxana Saberi’s appeal will be “reviewed justly and humanely.” He spoke at a joint news conference Saturday with Japan’s Hirofumi Nakasone, who expressed concern over the case during his visit to Iran.

Miss Saberi is a dual Iranian-American citizen. Her father is Iranian, and her mother is Japanese.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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