- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

Parades celebrate Saddam's birthday
TIKRIT, Iraq Faced with U.S. threats to topple Saddam Hussein, Iraq brought five days of celebrations for his birthday to a climax yesterday with massive parades designed to show his popular support.
But as an estimated 1 million Iraqis took to the streets in the festivities, Saddam canceled an annual birthday party at his palace to show solidarity with Palestinians in their 18-month uprising against Israeli occupation.
"There are beautiful children like you in Palestine who are living in distress now; you watch them on the television," said the Iraqi leader, who was shown on state television addressing children who came to the palace to greet him on his birthday.
Saddam turned 65 yesterday.

N. Korea invites Clinton to mediate
PYONGYANG, North Korea North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has invited former U.S. President Bill Clinton to visit Pyongyang to play a mediating role and to cool rhetoric from Washington, a North Korean official today.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to specify whether the reclusive Mr. Kim had issued the invitation to Mr. Clinton before or after President Bush's speech in January in which he branded North Korea part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and Iran.
"The plan of the Dear Leader Kim Jong-il is that Mr. Clinton should end the rhetoric," the official said.
Mr. Kim also hoped Mr. Clinton could play a mediating role similar to that of former President Jimmy Carter, who visited Pyongyang in 1994 at the invitation of Mr. Kim's predecessor and father, Kim Il-sung, to try to set up a summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, the official said.
That summit fell through with the death the same year of Kim Il-sung.

Secret files denied to war-crimes tribunal
BELGRADE, Yugoslavia Yugoslavia will not hand over secret state files to officials of the U.N. war crimes tribunal, the federal interior minister said yesterday, indicating future cooperation with the court may not be as smooth as expected.
Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic, who oversees the police, told Belgrade's B-92 radio that the country will allow U.N. tribunal officials "access to some state documents but not all."
"There is much we can provide the tribunal with, but there are also such things that are state secrets, documents which will remain sealed for 20 to 30 years," Mr. Zivkovic said.

French Jews rally against Le Pen
PARIS Declaring themselves proud to be French, France's Jewish community led protests against far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen yesterday as he grew more confident about pulling off an upset win in a presidential runoff Sunday.
Carrying banners saying "France: Country of Human Rights" and "Jews against Le Pen," some 10,000 protesters gathered in Paris to rally against the National Front leader who stunned France by qualifying for a runoff with President Jacques Chirac.
Last week, Mr. Le Pen detailed his anti-immigration plans, such as setting up "transit camps" for illegal immigrants before deportation, with language critics said deliberately harked back to World War II Nazi camps for Jews.

Mali prepares for presidential election
BAMAKO, Mali Camels helped carry the ballot box to Sahara Desert nomads in Timbuktu and beyond yesterday as a democracy singled out by the West as a model for Africa held a wide-open presidential race.
Twenty-four candidates were competing in Mali, West Africa's largest nation and one of the world's poorest. A May 12 runoff is required if no candidate wins an outright majority.
Around the country, turbaned women with babies strapped to their backs pressed against men in frayed and faded Western clothes or traditional flowing robes in dirt-courtyard polling places.
Results are expected tomorrow.

N. Koreans, Japanese meet for Red Cross talks
BEIJING Red Cross officials from Japan arrived in Beijing yesterday to resume long-stalled talks with their counterparts from North Korea about Japanese people whom Tokyo believed were kidnapped by North Korean agents.
The planned resumption today of Red Cross talks, often used as a means of diplomacy between the rivals, follows a gap of more than two years and is one of several signs that North Korea wants to resume diplomatic contacts with its neighbors.
Japan accuses North Korea of kidnapping Japanese nationals to train as spies or to teach agents the Japanese language and customs, which North Korea denies.
North Korea's Red Cross Society said last month it was ready to discuss "those missing," an issue that had become a key stumbling block to normalizing ties between the two countries.

Opposition candidates win special elections
TOKYO Opposition-backed candidates defeated rivals from Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling party in two of three major elections yesterday, reflecting the Japanese leader's plummeting popularity and weakening grip on power.
The races will not alter the balance of power in parliament, as the ruling coalition led by Mr. Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party retains its majority in both houses.
But the losses were another blow to the Japanese leader, who had been trying to shore up dwindling public support, accelerate stagnating reforms and resuscitate a party mired in scandal.

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