- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 20, 2004

CYPRUS

Ecevit speaks against island’s reunification

NICOSIA — Bulent Ecevit, the former Turkish prime minister who ordered the 1974 invasion of Cyprus after the Cypriot national guard under mainland Greek officers seized power on the island, spoke out yesterday against its reunification before a referendum Saturday on the United Nations plan.

“The Greek Cypriots are religious extremists, racists and expansionists,” Mr. Ecevit told reporters at a meeting here with Turkish-Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, a foe of Cypriot reunification. “Ambitions of the sort entertained by Greek Cypriots do not allow for any cooperation,” Mr. Ecevit said.

Turkish and Greek Cypriots will vote separately Saturday on the U.N.-proposed peace plan, which envisages the island’s reunification in a loose federation before it joins the European Union on May 1.



Polls suggest that Turkish Cypriots, increasingly frustrated by international isolation, will vote yes.

MOROCCO

Spain’s new premier to visit Mohammed VI

MADRID — Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero will visit Morocco on Saturday to meet King Mohammed VI and the country’s political leaders, continuing the tradition of new Spanish leaders making their first foreign journey to the northern African Arab country.

Mr. Zapatero will make the trip despite the discovery that 14 of the 18 suspects in the March 11 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 persons were Moroccans.

SAUDI ARABIA

Tunisian delivers invitation to summit

RIYADH — Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia invited Saudi Arabia on Monday to attend the rescheduled May 22 Arab League summit that Tunis had been scheduled to hold last month, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

Mr. Ben Yahia underlined “the Tunisian president’s commitment to consulting the Saudi leadership on the meeting … with a view to a successful Arab summit and reaching resolutions, which meet the current demands” of the Arab world, SPA said.

Weekly notes

A leading member of Iran’s outgoing parliament resigned Sunday, saying the reformist-dominated assembly had been unable to defend people’s rights owing to the resistance of religious hard-liners. Behzad Nabavi, one of parliament’s two deputy speakers, said unelected bodies appointed by the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had blocked reformers at every turn since pro-reform President Mohammed Khatami took office in 1997. … Libya expects 18 years of U.S. economic sanctions to be lifted this month, Economy and Trade Minister Abdulgader Omar Elkhair said yesterday. “That’s what we hear … but the decision is not in the hands of Libya,” he said, adding that Libya would, “of course, welcome this.”

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