Saturday, June 1, 2002

Pastrana scraps talks with ELN rebels

BOGOTA, Colombia President Andres Pastrana suspended peace talks with the nation’s second-largest rebel group yesterday, saying the rebels weren’t interested in peace.

He said in a speech at a military school that despite strong government efforts, the rebel National Liberation Army, or ELN, “has failed the country, failed Colombians, failed peace and failed the international community.”

The collapse dashed any remaining hope that Mr. Pastrana would be able to achieve a breakthrough in peace talks during his four-year term, which ends in August.

Ailing pope cancels trip to Croatia

ZAGREB, Croatia Pope John Paul II has postponed a third visit to Croatia until spring 2003, the Catholic news agency IKA reported yesterday. The visit had been tentatively planned for September.

The pontiff, who turned 82 on May 18, recently returned from a five-day trip to Azerbaijan and Bulgaria. The Vatican has suggested that future trips might have to be curtailed because of his poor health.

Pope John Paul’s hands tremble and his speech is slurred, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, and he walks with difficulty.

Vietnam accuses Kerrey of war crimes

HANOI Vietnam accused former U.S. Sen. Bob Kerrey yesterday of committing “crimes” in a raid on a village during the Vietnam War in which the Navy team he led killed more than a dozen unarmed civilians.

It was the first time Vietnam has publicly accused Mr. Kerrey of criminal activity. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phan Thuy Thanh made the accusation in reaction to a revised account of the raid in Mr. Kerrey’s new memoir.

In his new memoir, “When I Was a Young Man,” Mr. Kerrey writes that he was aware that women and children had begun to gather as his squad searched the village for enemy Viet Cong.

Sakharov mural defaced by anti-Semitic vandals

MOSCOW Anti-Semitic and obscene slogans were spray-painted over a mural of Soviet dissident and Nobel laureate Andrei Sakharov at a Moscow human rights museum, its director said yesterday.

Mr. Sakharov, a physicist and one of the developers of the Soviet hydrogen bomb, later became an eloquent critic of the communist regime and a leader of the democratic movement before he died in 1989.

The 10-foot-high mural, in a square outside the Sakharov Museum, was vandalized overnight, Director Yuri Samodurov said.

Archbishop Milingo to resume ministry

VATICAN CITY An African archbishop who embarrassed the Roman Catholic Church by marrying a South Korean acupuncturist last year is preparing to resume his ministry, a Vatican official told an Italian magazine.

Monsignor Tarcisio Bertone said Zambian-born Archbishop Emmanuel Milingo, 71, was expected to return to Italy by the end of the summer, according to 30 Days, a religious-affairs monthly.

Archbishop Milingo was married a year ago in a group ceremony in New York led by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, head of the South Korea-based Family Federation for World Peace and Unification Movement.

Threatened with excommunication, Archbishop Milingo announced in late August that he was heeding Pope John Paul II’s appeal to abide by the vow of celibacy required by the Roman Catholic Church of its priests.

Sticker shock hits Cuban dollar stores

HAVANA Struggling with a financial crisis, Cuba’s Communist government announced major price increases yesterday at the country’s dollar stores but promised the cost of basic foodstuffs and other essentials would remain the same or decline.

All price increases will occur in the island’s dollar stores, where Cubans and foreigners can buy products including packaged foods and electronic appliances with the U.S. currency.

The most dramatic increase calls for gasoline to be raised from $2.85 to $3.99 a gallon for regular grade.

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