- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 11, 2001

WHO chief: Cut cost of AIDS drugs for poor

OSLO The head of the World Health Organization urged drug companies yesterday to make further cuts in prices of medicines sold in poor countries to combat AIDS and other diseases.

"A number of drug companies are contributing and have reduced prices fairly considerably," Gro Harlem Brundtland said during a meeting of about 80 health experts in Norway on ways to help poor nations obtain cheap health treatment.

"But they have to go further," she told Norway's P4 independent radio. "We agree on the main problem. It's a huge problem that a third of the earth's people don't have access to vital medicines."

The three-day talks in Hoesbjoer, about 80 miles north of Oslo, are sponsored by the WHO and the World Trade Organization and include representatives of governments, drug companies and lobby groups.

Egypt urged to set deadline on child labor

CAIRO Juan Samovia, director-general of International Labor Organization, urged Egypt yesterday to set a deadline to stamp out child labor.

"I very much hope that Egypt could be one of the leaders in taking the decision of fixing a date for the elimination of child labor," Mr. Somavia said at a press conference in Cairo.

"In the ILO, we are proposing to the countries to decide a time-bound commitment to eliminate the worst forms of child labor," he added.

Criticism of Chavez dismissed in Caracas

CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela's parliament yesterday dismissed criticism of President Hugo Chavez by a U.S.-based press-watchdog group and accused it of waging a "conspiracy" against the nation and its leader.

The declaration by the National Assembly, which is controlled by Chavez supporters, seemed certain to enflame an already-bitter war of words between the outspoken, left-wing president and the opposition-dominated local media.

The text, published in the Official Gazette, which prints government decrees and legislation, denounced "attacks" on Mr. Chavez's government by the Miami-based Inter-American Press Association.

Iraq hits U.N. delay on medical contracts

BAGHDAD Iraq has blamed the rise in mortality among children on a U.N. sanctions committee hold placed on contracts for medical supplies under the U.N. oil-for-food program.

"Delays on medical equipment ordered by Iraq under its oil deal have caused a rise in mortality rate among children," the Iraqi news agency INA quoted Health Minister Umeed Madhat Mubarak as saying.

"Mortality has surged to 108 deaths per 1,000 live births. Likewise under-5 mortality has increased to 8,000 children a month," the minister said.

Nuclear-waste train reaches France

FRANKFURT, Germany A train carrying spent nuclear fuel from German power plants crossed the border to France yesterday after police cut free protesters who had chained themselves to the rails close to the frontier.

Police said the train was held up for an hour after a man and a woman evaded police posted along the route to attach themselves to the track near the town of Hagenbach.

The train, carrying five containers of radioactive waste, had started from the nearby station at Woerth, where it was assembled from wagons arriving from three German nuclear-power plants further west. It was bound for a reprocessing plant in the French port of La Hague.

Ex-cleric damages Georgia's reputation

TBILISI, Georgia A fiery Georgian cleric on a mission to rid his country of evangelical groups has damaged its reputation for religious tolerance and drawn criticism from abroad.

Vasily Mkalavishvili defrocked as a priest six years ago by the majority Georgian Orthodox Church opposes the activities of Baptists, Pentecostals and other evangelical Christian groups that have blossomed in the former Soviet republic in the last decade.

In the past month alone, the former priest and his followers have seized and burned piles of brochures printed by Jehovah's Witnesses, trashed an apartment the Witnesses used as a prayer house, and beaten a group of American missionaries from the Assemblies of God, who were visiting the site of a future Bible school.

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