- - Sunday, July 3, 2011

GREECE

Gaza-bound flotilla plots next move

ATHENS — Organizers of a Gaza-bound flotilla said Sunday they have not abandoned their plans, despite a Greek government ruling that bars vessels from leaving Greek ports for the Palestinian territory.

The campaign to breach Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza suffered a major setback when Greece announced its restrictions on Friday, and authorities arrested the captain of a boat carrying American activists that tried to leave Greece without permission.

However, organizers of the flotilla were trying to maintain momentum with planned protests in Athens in the face of increasing calls for them to scrap their campaign.

On Saturday, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — urged governments to discourage Gaza-bound flotillas that could escalate tension in the region.

Israel imposed the blockade in 2007 to stop weapons reaching Hamas, the Islamic militant group that rules Gaza.

SUDAN

Ex-rebels warn of conflict over South Kordofan

KHARTOUM — The northern branch of the ex-rebel Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army warned on Sunday that the conflict in South Kordofan could deteriorate into widespread war unless Khartoum agrees to a cease-fire.

“There are some voices in Khartoum that are against this framework agreement [signed on Tuesday]. Those voices are playing with fire,” said Yasser Arman, secretary-general of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Movement.

“The only alternative to this agreement is a war from the Blue Nile to Darfur. We don’t want that,” he said. 

MEXICO

Poll: PRI scores big wins in three governors races

TOLUCA Voters in Mexico’s most populous state chose their next governor Sunday in a widely watched election that is expected to set the tone for next year’s presidential race.

An exit poll showed Institutional Revolutionary Party candidate Eruviel Avila winning the Mexico state election in a landslide, which would give PRI a major boost heading into the July 2012 national election, where it wants to regain the presidency it lost in 2000 after 71 years of uninterrupted rule.

The private poll by Mendoza Blanco y Asociados, carried out for TV Azteca, has Mr. Avila with 64 percent support, Alejandro Encinas of the Democratic Revolution Party, or PRD, with 23 percent and Luis Felipe Bravo Mena of President Felipe Calderon’s ruling National Action Party with 13 percent.

 

The poll showed the PRI also winning the state governor’s race in Coahuila with 65 percent support and in Nayarit with 48 percent. The poll had a margin for error of 4 percentage points.

KOSOVO

Kosovo, Serbia hail breakthrough deal

PRISTINA — Kosovo and Serbia on Sunday hailed the first deal on resolving nuts-and-bolts problems created by Pristina’s declared independence as a step toward European integration.

A five-month EU-brokered dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina produced first results late Saturday as the two sides agreed on issues such as freedom of movement and what to do about Serbia holding civil registries since the end of the 1998-1999 conflict.

According to the deal, citizens of Kosovo, a former Serbian province, will be able to cross the border with Serbia and move freely around the country with personal documents issued by Pristina authorities, excluding passports.

Belgrade up to now had considered Kosovo vehicle number-plates and ID as invalid, preventing Kosovars from using the shortest route to western Europe.

This was a particular headache for some of the 150,000-strong Kosovo diaspora in EU countries, who welcomed the agreement with relief.

CANADA

Prince William, Kate dine at site of French defeat

QUEBEC CITY — Prince William and wife Kate thrilled hundreds of adoring fans with an unscheduled walkabout Sunday in a city that was the site of a key French defeat at British hands.

The newlyweds were on the fourth day of a nine-day trip to Canada, part of their first official overseas trip since their April 29 wedding.

William and Kate had a private lunch at the Citadelle, a fortified residence where the British flag was raised at the end of the pivotal 1759 Battle of Quebec, sealing the conquest of New France.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as they are officially known, encountered small but vocal protests for the second straight day during their visit to predominantly French-speaking Quebec, following protests in Montreal.

“What they’ve seen in Quebec, in Montreal the last two days is, for them, just part of the rich fabric of Canada and in no way detracts from how much they respect and admire the country,” said the couple’s spokesman, Miguel Head.

From wire dispatches and staff reports