- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 24, 2003

SPAIN

Senior Bush backs son in stance on Europe

MADRID — Former President George Bush said yesterday that some people misunderstand his son’s attitude toward Europe.

“I know there is a perception in some quarters here in Europe that this administration of his hasn’t reached out to our friends and allies as much as some would like. I know that this is a misperception,” the father of President Bush said at a business conference in Madrid.

The elder Mr. Bush, 79, cited his son’s close work with Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar as an example of how the president had reached out to Europe in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

“This is not true that we are in some kind of an isolationistic mood or that we don’t care about Europe or that we want to go it alone,” he said. “The coalition [against Iraq] was indeed a real and active coalition.”

BRITAIN

Police increase security at tourist sites, airport

LONDON — Police stepped up airport security yesterday and put up concrete blocks around the Westminster Palace, a move designed to stop any terrorist attempt to slam a truck bomb into the seat of Britain’s parliament.

Police said the moves were part of continuing security operations, not a reaction to a specific terror threat.

Security at the site in central London has been tight, with armed police on guard outside the main entrances, since the September 11 attacks.

Police also strengthened security at Heathrow Airport, west of the capital, a spokesman for London’s Scotland Yard police department said.

LEBANON

Arab firms welcome to bid for Iraq work

BEIRUT — U.S. construction giant Bechtel said yesterday that it would consider qualified Arab companies, including ones from Iraq, as it carves up millions of dollars in contracts for rebuilding the country.

Thousands of companies have pressed their case for a share in the reconstruction, but many smaller firms, among them Arab businesses, say they fear losing out to big U.S. rivals.

Jack Shaheen, Bechtel Corp. senior vice president and manager of operations, said contractors from the Persian Gulf and Middle East regions proved they could compete with firms from around the world and that the field is open to all.

Bechtel was chosen by the U.S. Agency for International Development as the prime contractor to rebuild Iraq after the U.S.-led war in a deal that could be worth as much as $680 million during 18 months.

VIETNAM

U.S. soldiers’ remains sent to forensics

HANOI — The remains of five American servicemen listed as missing in action in Vietnam have been recovered and repatriated to the United States for identification, the U.S. military said yesterday.

The remains were recovered in recent U.S.-Vietnamese search missions in the region managed by the Joint Task Force Full Accounting, which is charged with search and recovery operations for missing American personnel in Southeast Asia.

JAPAN

Economic slump delays manned space flights

TOKYO — The dream of a Japanese manned space mission is not likely to get off the ground in the near future because the prolonged economic slump is limiting Japan’s space activities, the new head of the nation’s revamped space agency said yesterday.

“Manned flights will naturally be part of our discussions” in drawing up the strategies of the new Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said Shuichiro Yamanouchi, president of the National Space Development Agency of Japan.

“But considering Japan’s economy at the moment and the size of the space-exploration budget, it has to be said we are in such a severe situation that we cannot say [a manned space journey] is a matter of course,” he said.


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