- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 21, 2003

SYRIA

Iraqi team seeks Saddam’s billions

DAMASCUS — An Iraqi team is in Syria in a bid to track down and repatriate any assets deposited by Iraq or former officials of Saddam Hussein’s government in Syrian banks, a U.S. Embassy spokesman said yesterday.

The official said the embassy “acknowledges that an Iraqi assets technical team is here and that the U.S. government and the Syrian government are involved on this issue.”

Syria earlier this month dismissed reports that Washington had asked Syria to return up to $3 billion believed to have been stashed by Saddam or his supporters.

WEST BANK

No surgery now for Arafat’s gallstones

RAMALLAH — Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat is suffering from gallstones, officials said yesterday, but doctors have determined that he does not need an operation now.

Rumors have been circulating for weeks about the health of Mr. Arafat, 74.

His personal physicians have denied reports that he is suffering from stomach cancer, heart ailments and other severe illnesses.

FRANCE

Leaders invited to D-Day ceremony

PARIS — To honor the soldiers who waded ashore, fought and died on Normandy’s beaches, France is planning commemorations and inviting world leaders for the 60th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

The commemorations will offer France and its World War II allies, including the United States, a chance to mark their historical ties a year after another war — in Iraq — severely strained relations.

COLOMBIA

Rebel suspects nabbed in sweep

BOGOTA — Police and soldiers arrested a mayor, a top state official, two candidates in this weekend’s elections and more than a dozen other people yesterday in a sweep against suspected guerrilla supporters.

The arrests in Arauca, capital of Arauca state, were the latest in a series of mass detentions across Colombia in recent weeks that have netted hundreds of guerrilla suspects.

Among those detained were Arauca Mayor Jorge Cedeno, Arauca state Comptroller Edna Benitez, former congressman Albeiro Vanegas and a candidate for mayor of Arauca and a candidate for state governor, said army Gen. Eduardo Morales.

IVORY COAST

French journalist shot by policeman

ABIDJAN — A French journalist working for Paris-based Radio France Internationale was fatally shot by a policeman in Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan yesterday, the French Embassy said.

“The security service of the French Embassy confirms the death of Jean Helene after an argument with a policeman turned sour,” said Francis Guenon, political adviser and spokesman for the embassy in Abidjan.

ROMANIA

New constitution gains wide approval

BUCHAREST — Romanians overwhelmingly approved a new constitution designed to prepare the formerly communist country for membership in the European Union, officials said yesterday.

Cristian Beldiman, a statistician at the central elections office, said 89.7 percent of those who voted endorsed the new constitution. About 8.8 percent opposed it, he said after vote counting ended Monday night.

According to official results, 55.7 percent of nearly 18 million registered voters turned out.


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