- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 11, 2001

New Pan-African body charted at OAU talks

ALUSAKA, Zambia — African leaders met behind closed doors yesterday to chart the future of a new pan-African body to replace the Organization of African Unity (OAU) after electing the man to take charge of it.

After much haggling, the leaders settled on Ivory Coast's former foreign minister, Amara Essy, as the interim secretary-general of the OAU. Mr. Essy will play a pivotal role in the 38-year-old OAU's transition to the African Union (AU).

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who comes from Ivory Coast's neighbor Ghana, hailed Mr. Essy as a seasoned diplomat who brought a wealth of experience to the pan-African body.

China is closer to WTO membership

Members of the 141-nation World Trade Organization could approve China's bid to join the trade body at its ministerial in Qatar Nov. 9-13, a U.S. official said yesterday.

"It appears we are nearing the endgame in this accession process," Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Bader told a House trade panel regarding China's 15-year effort to join the WTO.

But in prepared testimony, Mr. Bader warned that China's bid would be set back if Congress fails to renew normal trade relations for an additional year.

Nepalese girl, 4, chosen as goddess

KATMANDU, Nepal — A 4-year-old girl was elevated as the new living goddess of Nepal yesterday, to spend her childhood revered as the source of prosperity in the Hindu kingdom high in the Himalayas.

Preeti Shakya, the daughter of a poor family, was enthroned as the new Kumari, or virgin goddess, a status she will hold until she reaches puberty and returns to being a mere mortal.

The ceremony took place in the goddess' small palace at the heart of the Nepalese capital, an official with the department that looks after the Kumari said.

Tory contest fails to eliminate anyone

LONDON — The first round of voting to elect the new leader of Britain's fractured opposition Tory Party will be restaged after two contestants tied for last place yesterday.

Members of Parliament were invited to vote for one of five contestants to whittle down challengers for the leadership race.

The worst placers among Michael Ancram, Kenneth Clarke, David Davis, Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Portillo then would have been eliminated.

However, backbencher Mr. Davis and former party Chairman Mr. Ancram tied for last place with 21 votes, while former defense minister Mr. Portillo came in first with 49.

2 hard-line groups pull out of Irish talks

WESTON PARK, England —Top-level talks to rescue Northern Ireland's peace process suffered a double blow yesterday as two hard-line Protestant groups withdrew support for reconciliation efforts.

Separate statements by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), one of Northern Ireland's most ruthless guerrilla groups, and the Progressive Unionist Party, which has links to another guerrilla organization, came during peace talks in England.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he regretted the pullout but refused to speculate on the impact.

Poland apologizes for 1941 massacres

JEDWABNE, Poland — Facing up to a dark chapter in Poland's World War II history, President Aleksander Kwasniewski apologized yesterday for the massacre of hundreds of Jews by their neighbors 60 years ago.

His apology followed months of soul-searching after new research showed Poles went on a murderous rampage in the small town of Jedwabne on July 10, 1941, overturning the official version that Nazi Germans were entirely to blame.

"For this crime, we should beg the souls of the dead and their families for forgiveness," Mr. Kwasniewski told a ceremony in Jedwabne to mark the 60th anniversary of the massacre.

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