Thursday, October 21, 2004

LEBANON

Prime minister quits, dissolves Cabinet

BEIRUT — Prime Minister Rafik Hariri resigned, dissolved his Cabinet and made the surprise announcement yesterday that he would not try to form the next government, dropping out of the political scene at a time when Syria’s role in Lebanon is being challenged by the United Nations.

Mr. Hariri, a self-made billionaire who has led Lebanon most of the time since the 1975-1990 civil war ended, has been in a rivalry with pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud for years.



INDONESIA

Yudhoyono sworn in, vows to fight terror

JAKARTA — Retired Gen. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday vowed to fight poverty, end separatist conflicts and make Indonesia safer from terrorism as he was sworn in the first directly elected president in the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Mr. Yudhoyono, 55, won the presidency of the sprawling Southeast Asian country by a landslide in elections last month — the first in which the country’s 210 million people voted for their head of state directly.

PAKISTAN

Raids target leader in kidnapping

WANA — About 1,000 Pakistani soldiers backed by helicopter gunships, mortars and artillery yesterday pounded a mountainous region near the Afghan border where Abdullah Mehsud, a former Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prisoner who masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese engineers, is thought to be hiding.

Also yesterday, intelligence officials said they had captured a person suspected of being an al Qaeda communications expert of Middle Eastern origin, whom they identified as Abdul Rahman.

BRITAIN

Lawmaker apologizes to Liverpool

LONDON — Conservative lawmaker Boris Johnson ate humble pie yesterday when he apologized to an entire city over a magazine article that said Liverpool reveled in grief after the beheading in Iraq of a local-born hostage.

He apologized for the Spectator magazine piece, which said Liverpudlians enjoyed wallowing in “victim status.”

The piece appeared in the influential niche magazine, which Mr. Johnson edits, shortly after British engineer Kenneth Bigley was beheaded by militants in Iraq earlier this month.

CAMBODIA

New king, father return home

PHNOM PENH — Thousands of Cambodians jubilantly welcomed their new king on his return to his homeland yesterday, accompanied by his proud and protective father, the outgoing monarch.

The relatively little-known Norodom Sihamoni, a 51-year-old ballet-loving bachelor, arrived from Beijing with the ailing 81-year-old Norodom Sihanouk. The former king has spent most of the past nine months in China, for medical treatment and in self-imposed exile to protest bickering among his country’s political leaders.

THAILAND

40 tigers to die in bird flu outbreak

BANGKOK — Authorities will kill about 40 tigers thought to be sick with bird flu after 30 others died at a private zoo, officials said yesterday.

The tigers, which started dying Oct. 14, are among more than 400 at the Sriracha Tiger Zoo in central Chonburi province. All are regularly fed raw chicken, which could have been infected with the bird flu virus.

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