- The Washington Times - Friday, November 7, 2003


Maverick peace plan wins U.S. backing

RAM, West Bank — An informal Mideast peace plan drafted by prominent Israelis and Palestinians got a boost yesterday with a letter of support from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Mr. Powell’s praise for the “Geneva Accord” came despite Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s vehement opposition to the plan.

His letter was addressed to the leaders of the initiative, former Israeli Justice Minister Yossi Beilin and former Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo, the two said at a news conference.


China optimistic about new talks

China signaled yesterday that agreement may be reached soon on convening a new round of six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program.

The optimism about convening a new round 10 weeks after the initial discussions emerged after a meeting in Washington between Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

“Preparations for a new round of six-party talks at Beijing have started,” Mr. Wang told reporters after the hour-long meeting, speaking through a translator.


AIDS epidemic at ‘frightening’ levels

BEIJING — The number of AIDS patients in China is reaching “frightening” levels, a renowned specialist on the disease said yesterday, a day after Beijing said it would provide free treatment to thousands of victims in dire financial straits.

New HIV infections in China have been increasing annually by about 30 percent. Chinese officials and the United Nations warn that 10 million people could be infected by 2020 without more effective prevention.


Bikini uncomfortable for beauty queen

MANILA — A 23-year-old Afghan woman denounced by her country’s Supreme Court for wearing a bikini during a beauty pageant said she felt uncomfortable in the skimpy attire, but did it to call attention to the plight of women in her homeland.

Vida Samadzai paraded down a catwalk in a red bikini in the Philippines two weeks ago as part of the Miss Earth contest.

Wearing the two-piece bathing suit was necessary to qualify for the contest, said Miss Samadzai, who studies at California State University.


Soros building raided in property dispute

MOSCOW — Men in battle fatigues raided the Moscow city center headquarters of billionaire benefactor George Soros, taking away all its documents in the climax to a long-running commercial dispute, radio Ekho Moskvy said.

Yekaterina Geniyeva, president of Mr. Soros’ Moscow-based Open Society Institute, told the radio station the attackers identified themselves as working for Sektor-1 company, which says it owns the building in the city center.


Brazil’s Lula surprised by “clean” African town

WINDHOEK — Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s efforts to befriend Africa hit a jarring note yesterday when he praised Namibia’s capital city as being so clean it didn’t seem African.

“I’m surprised because if you arrive in Windhoek, it doesn’t seem like you’re in an African country. Few cities of the world are so clean and beautiful as Windhoek,” said Mr. Lula da Silva, flanked by Namibian President Sam Nujoma.

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