- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 5, 2001

Cyprus foes set direct talks
NICOSIA, Cyprus Rival leaders of bitterly divided Cyprus agreed in a breakthrough decision yesterday to hold face-to-face negotiations on ending the Mediterranean island's 27-year division ahead of its expected entry into the European Union.
The move was hailed as the best chance in decades to end the Cyprus standoff, which has kept NATO members Greece and Turkey at loggerheads and haunted Ankara's long-term dream of joining the EU.
It was capped by an agreement by Cypriot President Glafcos Clerides to go for the first time in decades to the north of the island occupied since 1974 by Turkish troops to have dinner with Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash today.
U.N. special envoy Alvaro de Soto said the two sides had agreed to hold a series of talks on Cyprus in mid-January.

Communists near power as Berlin talks collapse
BERLIN Efforts to form a new Berlin government collapsed in rancor yesterday, raising the potential of former East German communists gaining a share of power for the first time since reunification.
Month-old coalition talks between the left-center Social Democrats and the smaller Green and pro-business Free Democrat parties foundered on the issue of Berlin's $36 billion debt. Sticking points ranged from tax increases to whether the city should bid to host the Olympic Games.
One option for the Social Democrats would be to form a coalition with the ex-Communist Party of Democratic Socialism, giving the party its first share of power since the collapse of East Germany and reunification in 1990.

Venezuelan union joins planned Chavez protest
CARACAS, Venezuela Venezuela's main workers' union threw its weight yesterday behind a one-day anti-government strike next week called by business leaders, mounting a powerful joint challenge to leftist President Hugo Chavez.
The unusual alliance between bosses and workers raised the stakes for the 12-hour nationwide stoppage set for Monday, which the outspoken paratrooper-turned-president scornfully dismissed as a protest by a minority of rich "oligarchs."
In Caracas, the anti-Chavez leadership of the Venezuela Workers' Confederation said it also would consider calling a longer general strike in the oil-rich nation if the president did not heed calls to modify disputed economic laws.

Zimbabwe land grabs cleared by judges
HARARE, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's top court declared the government's plan to seize white-owned farms legal, overturning its own ruling that the seizures were unconstitutional.
In a judgment released yesterday, four of the five Supreme Court justices appointed to hear the seizure case said they were satisfied the government's "fast-track" land nationalization program was lawful and "sufficiently complied" with the constitution.
The four judges who approved the seizures all had been appointed to the court recently by President Robert Mugabe, who had been harshly criticized for the seizures.

Americas' first synagogue reopens
SAO PAULO, Brazil The first Jewish synagogue ever built in the Americas, in the Brazilian city of Recife, reopened yesterday, 347 years after it was closed by Portuguese colonial rulers.
The synagogue was inaugurated in 1637 for a community of Christian converts from the Inquisition and Jews of Portuguese origin who had immigrated from Amsterdam during the Dutch rule of the sugar-rich seaport on Brazil's northeastern coast.
After the Portuguese defeated the Dutch at Recife in 1654, they expelled the Jews and banned the religion.

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