- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 28, 2001

Greece opens new airport

ATHENS Greece opened a gleaming new airport for Athens yesterday, seeking to welcome thousands of tourists ahead of the 2004 Olympics and end decades of poor service and questionable security at the city's old facility.

A symbolic first flight an Olympic Airways jet on its final journey from the old Hellenikon airport swooped down onto the new tarmac at Spata, in the countryside about 17 miles from the city center.

Athens International Airport, also known as Eleftherios Venizelos Airport after Greece's most celebrated 20th-century statesman, will officially open for business today when commercial flights begin arriving and departing.

It is a far cry from the old Hellenikon airport, where a Third World atmosphere greeted visitors at run-down terminals with stray dogs sleeping at the crowded arrival gate.

Train crash kills eight in Belgium

PECROT, Belgium An empty train riding on the wrong side of the tracks crashed into a crowded commuter train yesterday, killing eight persons in the worst rail accident in Belgium in a quarter century.

The death toll could rise as rescue workers cut into the wreckage to search for a missing child. A 13-year-old was among the five dead passengers. Both drivers were killed along with another rail official. Nine persons were injured, three of them seriously.

Rail officials said some 30 passengers were on the train at the time of the accident in the village of Pecrot 15 miles from Brussels.

Somali gunmen seize relief workers

MOGADISHU, Somalia Militiamen ambushed an aid convoy and attacked the compound of a French humanitarian group in Mogadishu yesterday, taking away nine relief workers.

Witnesses said at least eight Somalis were killed in the fighting, which grew out of a feud between a group hired to protect the Medecins Sans Frontieres compound and a rival militia. As many as 30 persons, mostly militiamen, were wounded.

The nine workers included two Spanish members and one French member of the French aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres known in English as Doctors Without Borders, or by its French acronym MSF. The others were U.N. workers and included one American.

Haider refuses to bow out

VIENNA, Austria Austrian far-right leader Joerg Haider yesterday denied press reports that he was planning to pull out of politics after his party suffered heavy losses in last weekend's municipal elections.

"The rumors are completely incomprehensible" and "absolutely absurd," his spokesman, Karl-Heinz Petritz, told state news agency APA.

U.S. commander urges North Korea engagement

SEOUL The top U.S. military commander in Korea said yesterday that the United States and South Korea cannot ignore North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and must engage his Stalinist regime while maintaining a strong military alliance.

U.S. Forces Korea commander Gen. Thomas A. Schwartz echoed South Korean President Kim Dae-jung's "sunshine" policy toward reclusive North Korea.

Speaking to South Korean scholars and business leaders, Gen. Schwartz said the strength of the U.S.-South Korea military alliance helped bring North Korea to the bargaining table.

Kenya purges corruption fighter

NAIROBI, Kenya Conservationist Richard Leakey who headed an anti-corruption team in Kenya was removed from his job Monday by President Daniel arap Moi, who said the white Kenyan had completed his task of initiating reforms.

Despite Mr. Moi's comment that Mr. Leakey was stepping down by agreement, some analysts said he had been fired.

Mr. Leakey, a wildlife expert, spearheaded a battle against poaching before stepping down in 1994 as head of Kenya Wildlife Service.

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