- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

Havana, EU agree to seek more trade

HAVANA Cuban officials and European Union delegates, led by Jan de Bock of Belgium, agreed to set aside differences and work toward closer trade relations following two days of talks in Havana.

In a joint statement issued Sunday, the two sides expressed satisfaction with "the reopening of a broad political dialogue, open and without conditions, respecting differences and looking toward the future."

Relations between Cuba and the EU have been touchy since several European countries joined a U.N. vote last year condemning the communist country for its human-rights record. Havana officials responded by canceling a visit to Europe and said later Cuba would not participate in the EU's aid-and-trade pact with developing countries.

Castano said to admit 1990 political killing

BOGOTA, Colombia Paramilitary chief Carlos Castano has admitted ordering the murder of a leftist ex-rebel presidential candidate in 1990, according to excerpts published Sunday in Semana magazine from "My Confession," a forthcoming book by journalist Mauricio Aranguren that also gives details on how Castano planned and ordered dozens of other high-profile assassinations.

Castano, head of the right-wing Self-Defense Units of Colombia (AUC), said he ordered the killing of Carlos Pizarro, candidate for M-19, a group of demobilized Marxist rebels. Mr. Pizarro, 39, was murdered on April 26, 1990, while on a domestic commercial flight.

Davis, Fox to discuss fast track for border

MEXICO CITY California Gov. Gray Davis said on Sunday that he and Mexican President Vicente Fox will discuss ways to speed traffic across their shared border while not compromising security.

Mr. Davis said the two would discuss how to expedite border traffic for people who have an established, sometimes decades-old, history of crossing the frontier. Mexico is a conduit for drugs entering the United States from Latin America.

"We would hope to be able to work out a relationship that speeds up the travel across the border, still keeping in mind that security is our highest priority," Mr. Davis told reporters at a round-table discussion as he arrived in Mexico City.

Weekly notes

European Union officials, angered by the kidnapping of Europeans by Colombia's Marxist FARC guerrillas and the slow pace of peace talks, will meet in Brussels today to consider barring rebel leaders from travel to Europe. An escalation of rebel violence and the recent kidnapping of three German aid workers have caused some European diplomats to question the FARC's commitment to peace. The Brazilian son of ailing British train robber Ronnie Biggs yesterday lost his appeal against a government decision, which means he cannot stay in Britain indefinitely, his London lawyers said. Michael Biggs, 27, had argued that it was "inhumane" to separate him from his father, whose health was described as precarious. Ronnie Biggs, 72, who was sent back to jail after flying home from Brazil this year to end 35 years on the run, has been in failing health for some years.

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