Frail pope struggles during latest trip
BRATISLAVA — Slumped in his chair and slurring his words, Pope John Paul II struggled yesterday at the start of a trip to press Roman Catholic values on skeptical Europeans.
The frail 83-year-old pope, who is battling Parkinson’s disease and crippling knee and hip ailments, looked pale and short of breath as he failed to read his full arrival speech for the first time in 102 foreign trips.
Reaching out to Slovakia, which joins the European Union next year, the pope touched on what has become a recurrent theme: a plea to Europeans to resist materialism and reaffirm traditional family values in the face of liberal abortion laws and growing legal recognition of homosexual unions.
Agreement made on Libya sanctions
PARIS — France said yesterday it could approve the lifting of U.N. sanctions against Libya after families of 170 victims of the 1989 bombing of a French UTA airliner secured a new compensation deal with Tripoli.
Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said a U.N. Security Council vote to end sanctions imposed after the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland could go ahead today as planned.
The scrapping of the sanctions would pave the way for the release of an expected $2.7 billion from Libya to the families of more than 270 people killed in the Lockerbie bombing.
Four charged in plot to hit Jewish targets
BERLIN — German prosecutors yesterday announced terrorism charges against four men suspected of plotting to attack Jewish targets in Germany for a radical Palestinian network.
The three suspected members and one supporter of a German cell of the Al Tawhid group were arrested in April 2002 with Jordanian Shadi Abdellah, currently on trial in Germany for his part in the reported plot.
Al Jazeera reporter formally charged
MADRID — A Spanish judge yesterday formally charged a top reporter for Al Jazeera of being a member of al Qaeda, saying he carried out “support, financing and coordination” for the terrorist network.
Investigating Judge Baltasar Garzon charged Tayssir Alouni, 48, with membership in an armed group and ordered him held in the high-security Soto del Real prison near Madrid after a 72-hour extension of his arrest expired, the National Court said. Mr. Alouni was not present during the hearing.
Police take control of Spanish center
HAVANA — Cuba took control of Spain’s cultural center in Havana yesterday as relations between the Communist-run country and its main economic partner, the European Union, deteriorated further over human rights issues.
Heat wave toll exceeds 4,000
ROME — At least 4,175 more elderly Italians died this summer, compared with the like period last year, Italy said yesterday, in its first official report on the number of deaths related to the blistering heat wave that swept through Europe.
The toll was the second-highest after France, where the government reported a startling 11,435 deaths. The Italian Health Ministry warned the figure could go as high as 5,000 once all data are in.
From wire dispatches and staff reports