- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Shooting suspect takes fatal jump

PARIS The suspect in a shooting rampage that left eight officials dead at a City Council meeting killed himself yesterday by jumping out a window at police headquarters, another shock to a country already reeling from the carnage a day earlier.

Richard Durn, 33, bounded suddenly toward a fifth-floor window at the Paris headquarters while he was being questioned and struggled out of the grasp of two officers who tried to pull him back inside, police said.

Prosecutors opened an immediate inquiry into Mr. Durn's death, as did the Justice and Interior ministries. Interior Minister Daniel Vaillant said the suspect's death seemed to him "a case of serious malfunctioning" on the part of the police.

China's Hu still coming for Washington visit

BEIJING China said yesterday it still plans to send Vice President Hu Jintao, its expected future leader, to the United States, dampening speculation that the visit might be canceled because of tensions over Taiwan.

As recently as Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue had sidestepped reporters' questions about Mr. Hu's trip, responding instead with criticism of Washington's contacts with Taiwan.

But on Thursday, Miss Zhang said, "China and the United States are making preparations for this visit." Details will come "in due time," she said at a regularly scheduled briefing for reporters.

Mr. Hu is heir-apparent to Jiang Zemin, expected to retire as China's president and head of the ruling Communist Party during the next year.

Pope unable to do foot-wash ritual

VATICAN CITY For the first time in his 23 years as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope John Paul II was unable yesterday to take part in a ritual washing of feet as part of one of the church's most sacred ceremonies: the Easter commemoration of Jesus' Last Supper.

The 81-year-old pope remained sitting as the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, and French Cardinal Roger Etchegaray symbolically washed the feet of 12 priests during an annual commemoration of Jesus' humility toward his apostles.

He remained seated throughout the Mass, rising only to deliver the Gospel and for the veneration of the Host, which Christians believe is the moment when priests, through the powers given by Christ at the Last Supper, change symbolic bread and wine into His body and blood.

Congo pledges to hold presidential elections

JOHANNESBURG The government of Congo said yesterday it was prepared to hold elections in the war-torn country within 18 months provided Joseph Kabila remains president until then.

Communications Minister Kikaya bin Karubi said the Kabila government was ready to accept the deadline of between one year and 18 months for what would be the former Zaire's first vote since it achieved independence from Belgium in 1960.

He also outlined Kinshasa's position on the future governance of the country, which the government tabled yesterday at peace talks under way in South Africa.

Malaysia warns U.S. not to strike Iraq

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia Malaysia's prime minister said yesterday that the United States should not intensify its war on terrorism with military strikes on Iraq, predicting such action would lead only to a terror backlash.

In an exclusive interview, Mahathir Mohammed spoke to the Associated Press before a gathering here of leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries to discuss terrorism and its causes, the biggest such conference since the September 11 attacks on the United States.

Mr. Mahathir, a vital U.S. ally in cracking Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda network in Southeast Asia, said tackling the causes of terror among them the Israeli-Palestinian conflict had been sidelined in the U.S. military campaign.

But Mr. Mahathir said that for peace to prevail, Iraq needed to show the world that it is not planning to attack its neighbors.

China, India open commercial air link

BEIJING China and India opened direct commercial air links yesterday, a move hailed by Beijing as a "big event" that would boost ties between the sometimes uneasy neighbors.

The China Eastern Airlines Airbus 340, carrying about 100 passengers, was seen off from Beijing's International Airport by Chinese aviation officials, the Indian ambassador and people with bunches of flowers.

China and India are both developing nations with more than 1 billion people each, but relations often have been chilly.

They fought a border war in the 1960s and have sparred verbally in recent years. China is a longtime ally and weapons supplier to Pakistan, India's bitter rival. The presence in India of 120,000 exiles from Tibet remains a source of tension between New Delhi and Beijing.

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