- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

IRAN
Pollster repents after survey on U.S.
TEHRAN An Iranian pollster caught in a legal backlash to a survey that showed most Iranians favored dialogue with the United States acknowledged in court yesterday an error of judgment and appealed for a pardon.
On the second day of hearings, Hossein Ghazian of the Ayandeh polling institute told a hard-line judge he was unaware he had courted accusations of passing sensitive information to foreign governments.
The Ayandeh institute stands accused of conducting polls on behalf of the Washington-based Gallup Organization, which Iranian court officials charge is linked to the U.S. government.

CUBA
Castro opponents meet openly across island
HAVANA Opponents of Cuba's communist government held meetings yesterday to mark International Human Rights Day, saying it was the first time dissidents had gathered simultaneously across the island.
"We have won this space with years of jail," dissident economist Martha Beatriz Roque told about 70 opposition members at a meeting in her Havana home watched by security agents from the street corner.
Miss Roque said the fact that police allowed the meeting to take place was a sign that President Fidel Castro was feeling international pressure to improve human rights in his one-party state.

GERMANY
Court seeks word from U.S. convict
HAMBURG A German court trying a suspect in the September 11 terror attacks will go to the United States next week to question an Algerian convicted in a millennium bomb plot, the chief judge announced yesterday.
Judge Albrecht Mentz will preside over the questioning of Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted in a plot to bomb Los Angeles International Airport. His sentencing was delayed to allow him to testify against others accused of terrorism.
Two other judges will travel to Seattle for the sessions next week, along with defense attorneys, prosecutors and at least two lawyers representing victims and relatives of those killed September 11.

CYPRUS
U.N. revises plan for reunification
NICOSIA The United Nations yesterday submitted a revised peace plan for Cyprus before this week's European Union summit on enlargement and urged the Mediterranean island's divided communities not to miss their "rendezvous with history."
Cyprus is one of 10 candidate countries hoping to win a formal invitation to join the EU at the Copenhagen summit. Its long-estranged Greek and Turkish Cypriot communities are struggling to reach a settlement that would allow Cyprus to join in 2004 as a reunited island.

MEXICO
Protesters storm floor of legislature
MEXICO CITY Protesters seeking higher wages for teachers and aid to farmers stormed the lower house of Congress late yesterday, riding horses into the lobby and breaking down an ornate wooden door as they spilled onto the legislative floor.
A visibly shaken Beatriz Paredes, the legislature's president, begged for calm and called on federal authorities to intervene as the more than 150 farmers, ranchers and teachers broke up a legislative session in which lawmakers were discussing next year's budget.

RUSSIA
Giant satellite falls into Pacific Ocean
MOSCOW The world's largest communications satellite fell into the Pacific Ocean yesterday, two weeks after a Russian booster rocket failed to put it into the correct orbit, Russia's space forces said.
The failure marked another setback for Russia's satellite-launching program, which Moscow saw as a potential cash cow for its depressed space industry. It followed the Oct. 15 explosion of a Russian Soyuz-U rocket, also carrying a satellite, half a minute after liftoff.


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