- The Washington Times - Friday, June 29, 2001

China, France asked to back Iraq curbs
JERUSALEM — Secretary of State Colin L. Powell has prodded French and Chinese foreign ministers in hopes of easing their objections to the "smart sanctions" program he envisions for Iraq.
Spokesman Richard Boucher, who is traveling with Mr. Powell in the Middle East, yesterday confirmed the phone calls to foreign ministers Hubert Vedrine of France and Tang Jiaxuan of China.
Russia has been seen as the primary obstacle to U.S. curbs on Iraq and an overhaul of the U.N. Security Council regime for the nation.
A U.S.-British resolution, approved by the Security Council in early June, would ease restrictions on most civilian goods entering Iraq through the oil-for-food program, while tightening a weapons embargo and cracking down on Iraqi oil-smuggling.

Talks to expand EU seen on track
BRUSSELS — Negotiations with EU candidate countries are on track and the front-runners should wrap up talks by the end of 2002 and be able to participate in 2004 EU parliamentary elections, Enlargement Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said yesterday.
He said estimates made at the EU summit in Gothenburg, Sweden on June 15 and 16 were realistic so long as the negotiations continue at their current rate.

Havana raps isolation of 5 in spy case
HAVANA — Cuba yesterday decried a decision to move five Cubans held in U.S. jails into solitary confinement on charges of spying for Havana, saying it amounted to "crude and repugnant reprisals," an official statement said.
"This brutal conduct may be linked to the visit to Miami of U.S. Attorney General to the Bush administration, John Ashcroft," said the statement in Granma, the Cuban Communist Party's official publication.

Colombian rebels free 242 police and soldiers
LA MACARENA, Colombia — Colombia's Marxist guerrillas released 242 captured police and soldiers from jungle camps yesterday in a gesture aimed at reviving peace talks to end the country's 37-year-old war.
In a ceremony presided over by Manuel Marulanda, commander of FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the rebels handed the prisoners over to the government's top peace envoy, Camilo Gomez
The transfer took place in a demilitarized area in southern Colombia that was ceded to the guerrillas more than two years ago.
The releases have been one of the biggest steps in slow-moving peace talks between the 17,000-member FARC and President Andres Pastrana.

Canada opens embassy in Gadhafi's Libya
OTTAWA — Canada said yesterday it has opened an embassy in the energy-rich North African state of Libya, a country on which Ottawa imposed sanctions from 1986 to 1999.
Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley said the Tripoli embassy would be headed by charge d'affaires George Jacoby, the first Canadian diplomat to reside in Libya since diplomatic relations were first established in 1968.
"The presence of a Canadian diplomat and embassy in Tripoli opens a new era in our relations with Libya. It will reinforce our trade relations and expand political dialogue between the two countries," Mr. Manley said in a statement.

News activists occupy Tunisia's Paris embassy
PARIS — Activists from the press watchdog Reporters Without Borders yesterday occupied the Tunisian national tourist office in Paris to protest the arrest of journalist and rights activist Sihem Bensedrine.
Robert Menard, the nongovernmental group's president, said he intends to remain in the office until she is released and promised that he would be joined by Tunisian journalist Taoufik Ben Brick later in the day.
Miss Bensedrine, the spokeswoman of the Tunisian National Council for Civil Liberties was arrested at Tunis airport.

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