- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2003


U.S. lifts sanctions, says emergency is over

President Bush formally declared an end yesterday to the “national emergencies” that led to sanctions on Serbia and Montenegro, saying progress has been made toward political and economic reforms.

“I have now determined that the strong commitment to political and economic reform shown by senior officials in the government of Serbia and Montenegro warrants the termination altogether of the national emergencies declared with respect to the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia,” he said.

Mr. Bush’s executive order, released by the White House, does not lift sanctions against former Yugoslav strongman Slobodan Milosevic and his associates.

It also keeps frozen the assets of anyone under indictment by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, as well as anyone who threatens peace in the region.


Chavez, foes sign peace agreement

CARACAS — Venezuela’s government and its opposition signed a pact yesterday seeking to end their political conflict and smooth the way to a referendum on Hugo Chavez’s presidency.

The accord recommended holding a referendum after Aug. 19 as the best way to end a crisis in Venezuela, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter, where followers and foes of Mr. Chavez have been locked in confrontation.

“This is a good agreement for all Venezuelans,” said Organization of American States Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria, who spent more than six months coaxing the two sides into talking.

At least 50 persons have been killed in political violence in the country during the past 14 months.


Missile-defense talks with U.S. to begin

OTTAWA — After months of wavering, the Canadian government decided yesterday to discuss with the United States the possibility of joining its missile-defense program.

The announcement is expected to help smooth strained relations between Prime Minister Jean Chretien and President Bush. They are to sit down at a dinner in Russia on Saturday.

Defense Minister John McCallum told Parliament that any agreement would seek to meet the government’s “goal of protecting Canadians and preserving the central role of NORAD in North American defense and security.”

NORAD is the North American Aerospace Defense Command, based in Colorado.


Country examines security after hijacking attempt

MELBOURNE — Australia said today that it will review aviation security after a hijacking attempt on a Qantas plane by a man wielding wooden stakes who said “God had spoken to him.”

Prime Minister John Howard played down security risks a day after 40-year-old David Mark Robinson — who was armed with stakes, an aerosol can and lighter — stabbed two flight attendants and injured two passengers as he headed to the cockpit purportedly to try to crash the plane.

Mr. Howard, praising the bravery of air staff and passengers who wrestled the would-be hijacker to the ground, dismissed suggestions that Australia’s aviation security was riddled with holes.


Obasanjo sworn in for second term

ABUJA — Former military ruler Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in yesterday for a second term as Nigeria’s president as the main opposition party said it would recognize neither him nor his government after disputed elections.

Despite accusations of vote rigging, the inauguration was a landmark for civilian rule in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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