- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 18, 2001

Top French Communist cleared in bribery trial
PARIS After a lengthy trial, a Paris court has acquitted the president and 11 other officials of the French Communist Party of charges they took bribes for awarding contracts in city councils they controlled.
The court also convicted eight officials from two firms former water company Compagnie Generale des Eaux and equipment supplier Gifco of fraud and false invoicing.
Communist Party chief Robert Hue, a candidate in presidential elections next spring, was one of 20 defendants put on trial in June on charges the two companies funneled money to them between 1991 and 1994 to obtain local contracts.
"I recognize with great satisfaction the acquittal verdict that has just been handed down," Mr. Hue said. "

Poland will let foreigners buy land
WARSAW Prime Minister Leszek Miller pushed through last week a key concession on land sales to bolster Poland's bid to join the European Union in a move that could weaken his coalition and anger voters.
With less than a year remaining before the EU decision on welcoming new countries in 2004, the Polish government approved Thursday concessions on land sales to foreigners, a major stumbling block in negotiations.
Warsaw scaled back restrictions on sales of agricultural land to EU citizens, setting a 12-year transition period for such sales instead of 18. Many Poles fear foreigners will come in and buy up their farmland at rock bottom prices, particularly Germans in areas occupied in World War II.
Mr. Miller's Democratic Left Alliance-led (SLD) government, which took office last month, has pledged to review negotiating positions to ensure Poland joins the European Union by 2004.

3rd Paris airport to open by 2020
PARIS The French government has announced plans to build a third Paris airport to cope with the predicted buildup of air traffic and ease congestion at Roissy (Charles De Gaulle Airport) and Orly.
The chosen site is the small town of Chaulnes, in the Somme department about 80 miles due north of the capital, which is well situated for road and rail connections. The airport should be open by the year 2020, and official estimates put the cost at between $6 billion and $9 billion.
After a special Cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin on Thursday, the government also announced a development package to promote 10 regional airports, as well as a bill to protect people living near airports from noise pollution.

Weekly notes
Germany has announced it will send more than $200,000 worth of disaster relief to help Cuba rebuild after Hurricane Michelle, which killed five persons and did extensive damage to crops and infrastructure. The aid includes roofing materials, an ambulance and an electrical generator for a hospital in Matanzas province, according to German Embassy officials in Havana. Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres has called on the European Union to "speak with one voice" on Afghanistan after being excluded from an informal mini-summit on the issue early this month. It was among a number of countries excluded from the Nov. 4 meeting in London of the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.


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