- The Washington Times - Monday, November 22, 2004

SPAIN

Venezuelan leader gets warm welcome

MADRID — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez received a rock star welcome in Spain yesterday as he opened a new chapter in bilateral relations that had cooled under Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s predecessor.

Praising Spain’s seven-month-old Socialist government, Mr. Chavez told reporters: “Spain has turned into a great hope with the Prime Minister Rodriguez Zapatero’s new direction in foreign policy.”

Mr. Chavez, who was greeted with military honors at the start of a three-day visit, had accused Mr. Zapatero’s conservative predecessor, Jose Maria Aznar, of supporting a short-lived coup against him in 2002.

FRANCE

Palestinian arrives for Arafat records

PARIS — Yasser Arafat’s nephew arrived in Paris yesterday to collect the late Palestinian leader’s medical records, which could explain the cause of his death.

Nasser al-Kidwa, who also is the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, would not say when he would collect the records, but Saeb Erekat, a Palestinian Cabinet minister, said he hoped they would be turned over no later than today.

The Palestinian Authority has promised to make public the cause of Mr. Arafat’s Nov. 11 death in a Paris-area military hospital.

SAUDI ARABIA

Registration to begin for breakthrough vote

RIYADH — Saudi Arabia began preparing for its first nationwide elections, set for next year, and announced that voter registration would begin this week, state media reported yesterday.

Registration will be held from tomorrow until Dec. 22, said Prince Abdul-Aziz bin Muhammad al-Moqrin, head of the elections supervisory committee. Women cannot participate in the elections.

The nationwide elections, set to begin in the capital, Riyadh, on Feb. 10, are part of the government’s measured response to calls for political and social change.

GERMANY

Turkish immigrants join against terror

COLOGNE — Under the banner “hand in hand against terror,” more than 20,000 Turkish immigrants and Germans marched through Germany’s fourth largest city, Cologne, yesterday to condemn violence by and against Muslims.

Amid fears that the religious violence in Netherlands may spread, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged Germany’s 3.5 million Muslims — 4.2 percent of the total population — to help fight extremism and work harder to integrate.

Interviewed by German television yesterday, Mr. Schroeder said: “We’ve got to say clearly that those who live here and want to integrate have to obey the laws and have to learn our language.”

BAHRAIN

Human rights activist jailed over criticisms

MANAMA — A human rights activist was convicted of inciting hatred of the government and sentenced to a year in prison yesterday in a case linked to his criticism of the prime minister.

Abdul-Hadi al-Khawaja had called for the resignation of Prime Minister Sheik Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, whom he accused of economic failures and human rights violations.

Al-Khawaja has been on a hunger strike since Nov. 14 to press for the release of 13 persons who were arrested last month during a demonstration in his support.

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