- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 14, 2002

TURKEY
Parliament votes to lift ban on leader
ANKARA Turkey's parliament approved constitutional amendments yesterday that would allow the nation's most popular politician to run for parliament and become prime minister.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party swept elections last month, but Mr. Erdogan was banned from running because of a criminal conviction for reading a poem that the courts said incited religious hatred.
Mr. Erdogan is expected to run in Feb. 9 by-elections and become prime minister. Although party Vice President Abdullah Gul is serving as premier, Mr. Erdogan has acted as though he is the head of government.

YUGOSLAVIA
Car bomb wounds at least 20 in Kosovo
PRISTINA A car bomb exploded outside a restaurant in the Kosovo capital, Pristina, last night, wounding at least 20 persons, U.N. administration and international forces in charge of the province said.
A spokesman for the U.N. administration said the car bomb exploded in front of a popular restaurant on Bill Clinton Avenue in Dardania suburb. A doctor at the Pristina hospital said 32 persons had been admitted and seven were seriously injured.

IRAN
Nuclear program called peaceful
TEHRAN Iran rejected U.S. assertions that it was developing a clandestine nuclear program, declaring yesterday that its nuclear plants were open to international inspection.
"We have no nuclear activity or study without the knowledge of the International Atomic Energy Agency," government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said. "All our nuclear sites are for peaceful purposes and open to [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspection."
Mr. Ramezanzadeh spoke after U.S. officials Thursday endorsed claims by an armed Iranian opposition group during the summer that two construction sites in central Iran may be used for a clandestine program to develop nuclear weapons.

GREECE
Athens mayor escapes assassination try
ATHENS Mayor-elect Dora Bakoyianni narrowly escaped an assassination attempt yesterday after a gunman fired at her car window from close range, police said.
Mrs. Bakoyianni was seated in the back of the car and bent over to pick up her handbag as the shot was fired. The suspected gunman, a 35-year-old former psychiatric hospital patient, was arrested near the scene of the shooting.
Mrs. Bakoyianni, 48, is daughter of former Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis. She is to be sworn in as mayor Jan. 1 after winning October elections. Her husband, Pavlos, was killed by the November 17 terrorist group in 1989.

ARGENTINA
Buenos Aires legalizes gay-couple unions
BUENOS AIRES Legislators in Buenos Aires yesterday granted legal status to homosexual couples, allowing benefits such as pensions and hospital visits in a move hailed as a first in Latin America.
After a noisy marathon overnight debate, the legislature voted 29-10 to legalize same-sex civil unions in a city of 3 million people that has a reputation as one of the most progressive in this deeply Roman Catholic continent.

NICARAGUA
Former president appears in court
MANAGUA Former President Arnoldo Aleman appeared in court yesterday and said charges that he stole $100 million from his own government were political.
Congress voted Thursday to strip Mr. Aleman of his immunity from prosecution, and hours later he was placed under house arrest at his home outside Managua, the capital.
Mr. Aleman refused to enter a plea to the charges. It was the first time in the history of Nicaragua that a former president has faced criminal charges.

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