- The Washington Times - Friday, December 26, 2003

RUSSIA

Reception frosty for Georgian leader

MOSCOW — Georgian interim leader Nino Burjanadze tried yesterday to patch up differences with Russian President Vladimir Putin as the two sides continued to trade barbs over Georgia’s reported links to separatists from Chechnya.

Mrs. Burjanadze met Mr. Putin in the Kremlin for the first time after the toppling last month of Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze’s regime in a nonviolent democratic revolution that received a cool reaction from Moscow.

Georgia’s caretaker leader arrived in Moscow yesterday and immediately faced a direct accusation from the Kremlin that mercenaries fighting in Chechnya were entering the separatist Russian republic through Georgia with the knowledge of Tbilisi.

JAPAN

Debt relief said to be due for Iraq

TOKYO — Japan will forgive part of its $4.1 billion in debt claims against Iraq after a request from the United States and in line with other major creditors, press reports said yesterday.

The plan will be announced formally by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi on Monday when he meets with James A. Baker III, a U.S. envoy on Iraqi-debt restructuring, the Kyodo news agency said, quoting government sources.

Iraq owes Japan the most out of the 19 creditor nations in the Paris Club. Mr. Baker, a former U.S. secretary of state, is due here tomorrow after visiting other creditor countries such as France, Germany and Russia, which have agreed to offer debt relief to Iraq.

HAITI

Doctors, students protest Aristide’s rule

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Medical students and doctors marched in a protest against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide yesterday as a radio station reported that the death toll from a shooting at an antigovernment march a day earlier had risen to eight.

The march on Wednesday, part of a wave of antigovernment rallies that have roiled the Caribbean nation since September, came as the government prepares for Jan. 1 celebrations marking Haiti’s 200th anniversary of independence from France.

The protest led by doctors and medical students, which began at the University of Haiti’s medical school, drew about 2,000 people.

PORTUGAL

Abortionist given Christmas pardon

LISBON — President Jorge Sampaio has granted a Christmas pardon to a hospital nurse serving an eight-and-a-half-year jail term for performing illegal abortions, state television reported yesterday.

The nurse has been in jail since February 2000, when she first was remanded in custody under the staunchly Catholic country’s tough abortion laws, which permit the procedure only in cases of rape or health risk. She was sentenced in January.

The pardon was one of 38 granted by the president on Monday in a traditional Christmas gesture.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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