No room for God in draft constitution
BRUSSELS God will play no part in the European Union, according to a draft constitution being drawn up by the convention on the alliance’s future.
The convention’s executive, headed by former French President Valery Giscard d’Estaing, yesterday released the first 16 articles of the future constitution as part of an ambitious project to map a new vision for the bloc.
Parliament votes to let U.S. repair bases
ANKARA Turkey’s parliament voted yesterday to allow the United States to begin renovating military bases and ports for a likely war against neighboring Iraq, a first step toward opening the way for U.S. combat troops.
The vote came after Prime Minister Abdullah Gul, who has been facing intense U.S. pressure, said Turkey had no choice but to back Washington in an Iraq war. The vote was 308-193 with 9 abstentions.
In Brussels, after weeks of opposition from France and Germany, NATO tentatively agreed to start carrying out a U.S. military plan to protect Turkey in case of a war.
7 held in raids in England, Scotland
LONDON Seven terror suspects were arrested in England and Scotland during coordinated raids yesterday, police said, but the reasons for the arrests were not released.
Six men and one woman were arrested under the Terrorism Act 2000, police said. The Scotland raids occurred in Glasgow and Edinburgh, and the England raids in London and Manchester. Four persons were arrested in Scotland and three in England.
Chinese elected World Court chief
THE HAGUE Chinese judge Shi Jiuyong was elected president of the World Court, the U.N. institute for legal disputes between states, replacing French jurist Gilbert Guillaume, who ended his three-year term yesterday.
Judge Shi, 67, who joined the court nine years ago and has been vice president since 2000, will hold the post until February 2006. He was born in Zhejiang, and has law degrees from St. John’s University in Shanghai and Columbia University.
Official pleads guilty to visa fraud
Alexander Meerovich, a career Foreign Service officer, pleaded guilty yesterday to issuing visas illegally while serving as a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in the Czech Republic, the State Department said.
Meerovich, who served at the embassy from 1999-2002, faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the guilty plea entered in federal court in Washington was the result of a cooperative effort among the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service, the Bureau of Consular Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Prague, the Justice Department and Czech police.