- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 30, 2003

SPAIN

Aznar proposes deputy as successor

MADRID — Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar has proposed that Deputy Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy should succeed him in next year’s general election, a government source said yesterday.

Mr. Aznar, who will put the proposal to meetings of his Popular Party (PP) next week, has long said he will not stand for a third term in the election, likely to be held in March.

Such is Mr. Aznar’s dominance of the PP after leading it to an absolute majority in a general election in 2000 that approval by the National Executive Committee tomorrow and national party officials Tuesday is regarded as a formality.

ITALY

Girl director almost barred from own film

VENICE — A 14-year-old Iranian girl, Hana Makhmalbaf, whose first feature film debuted at the 60th Venice Film Festival Thursday, was almost barred from attending her own premiere.

Under Italian law, minors may not see movies that have no rating — even if they directed them.

But organizers of the Venice competition obtained last-minute permission to let Hana Makhmalbaf, who comes from Iran’s leading filmmaking family, hit the red carpet at the Lido’s Palazzo del Cinema and watch the official screening.

“It makes me laugh considering I’ve been going to the Cannes festival since I was about 3,” she told a news conference.

SWEDEN

Police help Romeo find his Juliet

STOCKHOLM — A 15-year-old Italian who hitchhiked to Sweden in search of a 17-year-old girl he met on holiday in the United States got a helping hand from police who drove him the last stretch of his journey Thursday, Swedish media reported.

The starry-eyed Italian left Milan to hitchhike the 1,240 miles to the Stockholm suburb of Taeby. But police were called to a gas station in a small Swedish town on the way about a “poorly dressed” boy who “looked a little confused.”

After running an identity check, police found he had been reported missing by his parents, and that the Swedish girl knew him.

Touched by the display of southern passion, the police drove him the last 110 miles to Stockholm early Thursday. Within a few hours the Swedish family bundled the broken-hearted Latin lover onto a plane back home.

Weekly notes …

A German court handed a former postman a 10-month suspended jail sentence and 200 hours community service last week for failing to deliver around 61,000 letters. Police discovered mounds of post that had accumulated over 2 years filling the rooms and basement of the 36-year-old’s house in the western town of Neuss after locals complained about missing deliveries. The man resigned his job.

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