- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 3, 2001

Hurricane Michelle roars toward Cuba

HAVANA Cuba battened down yesterday and Florida cast a wary eye south as Hurricane Michelle a surprise storm late in the hurricane season forged through the Caribbean Sea toward an uncertain destination.

The fringes of the strengthening storm, which was packing 85 mph winds, hit the south coast and mountains of the Caribbean's largest island as Cuban authorities put the western provinces and the capital, Havana, on alert.

"Michelle represents a real potential threat for the west and the center of the country," Cuba's Weather Institute chief forecaster Jose Rubiera said. "There's little chance of not being affected. This is big enough to cause damage."

Liberia encouraged by U.N.'s Annan

NEW YORK Liberia has taken the first steps to improve relations with its neighbors, a move which could go "a long way" toward restoring stability in the troubled west African region, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report yesterday.

The secretary-general urged the U.N. Security Council to remain engaged with the government and people of Liberia while taking a decision on extending or lifting sanctions.

"The perilous economic and social conditions of the Liberian people, the tense security situation in the country and the peace requirements of Sierra Leone and the subregion demand that sustained engagement," he said.

Arafat, Peres confer amid low expectations

POLLENSA, Spain Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres lunched together yesterday, the first meeting between the two in more than a month. There was little expectation that the talk would ease Mideast violence.

The two men, along with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, held a "serious and intense" discussion around the table on the Spanish resort island of Majorca, said an Egyptian delegate who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But the discussion was not intended to lead to concrete action, such as another cease-fire call. Since Mr. Peres lacks a mandate from his government to negotiate, no one expected dramatic results from the encounter.

Shevardnadze cancels planned NATO trip

TBILISI, Georgia President Eduard Shevardnadze yesterday canceled a scheduled visit to the NATO headquarters in Brussels but appeared determined to face down demands for his resignation after he dismissed the entire government.

The political crisis has forced Mr. Shevardnadze to put off the planned Monday-to-Thursday visit, when he had been due to meet NATO Secretary-General George Robertson, Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt and European parliamentary speaker Nicole Fontaine, senior officials said.

Mr. Shevardnadze held telephone talks with President Bush, who called to say he welcomed efforts to resolve Georgia's problems, in particular corruption, the Interfax news agency reported.

Korea party leaders offer to resign

SEOUL Key leaders of South Korea's strife-torn ruling party offered to resign yesterday amid calls for a reshuffle in President Kim Dae-jung's government.

All 12 members of the Supreme Council of Mr. Kim's ruling Millennium Democratic Party will officially resign today when they meet the president to discuss how to end turmoil in the party, officials said.

U.S. stills opposes Kyoto climate pact

MARRAKESH, Morocco The United States reiterated its opposition to the Kyoto Protocol during talks on the U.N. climate change treaty here yesterday.

The U.S. representative to the conference, Harlan Watson, told a plenary session that if the United States were to ratify a climate change treaty it would have to be "based on science," must encourage technological innovation and "profit from market forces." It should include global participation and "guarantee the economic growth and prosperity of the entire world."

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