- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 28, 2003


Government, opposition to sign referendum deal

CARACAS — Venezuela’s government and opposition will sign an agreement tomorrow on a plan to hold a referendum on President Hugo Chavez’s rule, the chief mediator of negotiations announced yesterday.

The agreement, brokered by the Organization of American States, ends six months of formal talks between the two sides aimed at restoring stability to Venezuela. It also addresses possible votes on the terms of other elected officials.

Diplomats from six countries — the United States, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Spain and Portugal — that helped in talks will be present at the signing ceremony, OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria said.


3 killed, 187 hurt in another tremor

ALGIERS — Three persons were believed killed and 187 injured when another earthquake hit Algeria yesterday, flattening some buildings and terrifying Algerians less than a week after a quake killed 2,200 people, officials said.

State radio said several buildings collapsed in the towns of Zemmouri and Boumerdes as the second quake struck the capital, Algiers, and a Mediterranean coastal strip to the east that endured widespread death and destruction in last Wednesday’s disaster.

The new quake measured 5.8 in magnitude and its epicenter was in Zemmouri, east of Algiers.


Reformist editor fired after boycott edict

JIDDA — Saudi Arabian authorities have fired the editor in chief of a leading reformist newspaper after an influential cleric issued a religious edict calling for a mass boycott of the daily.

This followed a campaign launched by the Arabic-language Al-Watan daily, owned by a member of the royal family, against the powerful religious leaders of the ultraconservative kingdom.

Jamal Khashoggi was sacked Monday evening just hours after Sheik Abdullah bin Abdul Rahman al-Jibrin, a member of Saudi Arabia’s religious edicts body, issued his edict saying the paper had ridiculed “virtuous” people.


Rwandans endorse new constitution

KIGALI — Rwandans overwhelmingly endorsed a new constitution intended to usher in democracy and security nine years after hundreds of thousands perished in a genocide.

Electoral commission chief Chrysologue Karangwa told reporters that 93 percent of those casting ballots approved the new charter; he put turnout at 87 percent of the nearly 4 million registered voters.


Blair to visit troops in Iraq, thank Kuwait

KUWAIT CITY — British Prime Minister Tony Blair will travel to Kuwait today to thank the country for its support during the Iraq war and then briefly stop in Iraq tomorrow to visit British troops stationed there.

Kuwait was a launchpad for the U.S. and British invasion of Iraq to topple President Saddam Hussein, and Mr. Blair intended to convey London’s gratitude personally to its leaders, officials said.

Mr. Blair is expected to be traveling to the southern Iraq city of Basra, where British troops have been concentrated.


Envoy to India named in step to improve ties

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has named Foreign Ministry spokesman Aziz Ahmed Khan as new ambassador to India in the latest in a series of steps taken by the nuclear-armed neighbors to improve relations, a senior government official said.

The news followed an announcement by India on Monday that the country would resume bus services with Pakistan as part of a series of reciprocal confidence-building measures between the two countries.

India has named Shivshankar Menon, India’s ambassador to China, as the new ambassador to Pakistan. Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee promised more steps to improve ties.

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