- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 25, 2001

Pope asks China to forgive errors
VATICAN CITY Pope John Paul II yesterday asked China to forgive "errors" committed by the Roman Catholic Church in the country, saying he wanted to normalize relations between the Holy See and Beijing.
"I feel deep sadness for these errors and limits of the past, and I regret that in many people these failings may have given the impression of a lack of respect and esteem for the Chinese people on the part of the Catholic Church, making them feel that the church was motivated by feelings of hostility towards China."
The pontiff's statement was addressed to participants in Beijing of a congress commemorating the fourth centenary of the arrival in Beijing of the church missionary, Matteo Ricci.

Bosnian Croats hail court verdict
VITEZ, Bosnia-Herzegovina A crowd of 2,000 Bosnian Croats gave a warm welcome yesterday to three men cleared on appeal by the U.N. war crimes court of having participated in a brutal massacre of 116 Muslims.
Mirjan and Zoran Kupreskic and their cousin Vlatko Kupreskic, who were sentenced last year to 10, eight and six years in jail, arrived in Vitez after convictions relating to the killing in the nearby village of Ahmici were found to be flawed by the appeal court in The Hague on Tuesday.
Some 30 passenger cars were waiting at the entrance of Ahmici to escort them to Vitez for the main welcoming ceremony.

Ukraine defense chief quits over air disaster
KIEV, Ukraine Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma accepted Defense Minister Oleksander Kuzmuk's resignation yesterday, nearly three weeks after his troops accidentally shot down a Russian airliner during missile exercises, killing all 78 on board.
"I have accepted the minister's resignation and suspended other senior military officials," Mr. Kuchma said on state television. "All missile launches have temporarily been banned."

Swiss set ballot on U.N. entry
BERN, Switzerland The Swiss government yesterday set March 3 as the date for a referendum to decide whether the country should become a member of the United Nations.
Last month, Switzerland's lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly in favor of the country joining the world body.
The Swiss government made joining the United Nations a key foreign-policy initiative and the country's upper house endorsed the move in a vote last June.

$2 million cleanup planned for Pantheon
ROME Italy's Pantheon, believed to be the only remaining complete classical structure, is in line for a $2 million sprucing up to make it safer and more attractive to tourists, a government official said yesterday. The domed masterpiece, which sits in the heart of old Rome, will have its columns and portico cleaned up for the first time in centuries and protective railings put around the sides, said Undersecretary of Culture Vittorio Sgarbi.

Ortega and rival run neck and neck
MANAGUA, Nicaragua Nicaragua's former leftist president, Daniel Ortega, is running neck and neck with his center-right rival less than two weeks before presidential elections, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.
The poll by private firm Cid-Gallup showed Mr. Ortega with the support of 37 percent of voters. He led the Sandinista government that took power in a 1979 revolution.
Businessman Enrique Bolanos of the center-right Liberal Party was slightly ahead with 38 percent support before the Nov. 4 election.

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