- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 16, 2003

Russian buffer force to be extended
TBILISI The Caucasian republic of Georgia is to extend the mandate of a Russian buffer force in its breakaway territory of Abkhazia for six months on the advice of the United States, President Eduard Shevardnadze said yesterday. Russia has had 3,000 troops in Abkhazia, a region in northwestern Georgia between the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea, since 1994, when a cease-fire ended fighting between government forces and secessionists.

Former king makes a surprise visit
ATHENS The former king of Greece flew to Athens yesterday on an unannounced private visit, defying authorities who have refused to issue him a Greek passport.
Constantine, who fled the country after a 1967 military coup, said he came for the memorial of his parents, Queen Frederika and King Paul, who are buried at the royal family's former summer residence at Tatoi, north of Athens. He last visited Tatoi in 1993.
Greek authorities said he flew from Italy on a Danish passport using the name Constantine De Grecia.

Chirac, Raffarin slip in satisfaction poll
PARIS Satisfaction with French President Jacques Chirac, hit by tension over privatizations, pensions and job losses, slipped three percentage points in February, a monthly poll to be published today showed.
The survey carried out by pollsters Ifop showed that 57 percent of French people were satisfied with Mr. Chirac, compared with 60 percent in January, while 35 percent were unhappy, compared with 33 percent a month earlier.
Fifty-four percent said they were satisfied with Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin's performance, compared with 60 percent in January.

Film on refugees wins Berlin award
BERLIN The British film "In this World" about two Afghan refugees won the top award, the Golden Bear, at the Berlin Film Festival yesterday, and Meryl Streep, Julianne Moore and Nicole Kidman of "The Hours" shared the best actress prize.
The 53rd annual Berlinale, one of Europe's top three film festivals, named Sam Rockwell best actor for playing U.S. game show mogul Chuck Barris in George Clooney's directorial debut, "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind."

Weekly notes …
The future of Berlin's giant "Love Parade" dance party is threatened by a funding crisis brought on by a lack of commercial sponsorship, Fabian Lenz, an organizer, told the Berliner Zeitung newspaper. … The Italian town of Terni, said to be the home of St. Valentine, received a Valentine's Day present Friday: a fragment of what is believed to be the saint's skull, which was stolen 24 years ago from the cathedral of the city. Police found the relic two weeks ago in the possession of an antique dealer but waited until Valentine's Day to return it.

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