Saturday, October 23, 2004


President gets cardiac pacemaker

ROME — Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi underwent surgery to install a pacemaker yesterday, his staff said.

The 83-year-old former prime minister is expected back at work at the beginning of the week, his staff said in a statement. He was reported in “good spirits” when he talked to colleagues after the operation, the ANSA news agency said.

The presidential post is largely ceremonial in Italy, and Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has the executive powers. Mr. Berlusconi sent “affectionate best wishes, both on a personal level and from the government,” his staff said.

Mr. Ciampi, a respected banker and politician, won Italy’s presidency in 1999 with broad support from both left and right, a rare show of unity.


Exile group charges EU with duplicity

VIENNA, Austria — An Iranian exile group bristled Friday at a European offer of incentives aimed at getting the Tehran regime to stop uranium enrichment, saying the offer included a promise that the union would continue viewing a key faction of the group as a terrorist organization.

In a statement made available to the Associated Press, the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran said the text — formally presented to Iran this week by Britain, France and Germany — “makes a mockery of the war against terrorism.”

European negotiators included a reference to the Iranian resistance group, the Mujahedeen Khalq, or MEK, in their last-chance offer of a trade deal and peaceful civilian nuclear technology to entice Iran to give up enrichment and avoid the looming threat of U.N. sanctions.


Thousands support opposition candidate

KIEV — Tens of thousands of supporters of opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko took to the streets of Kiev yesterday, a week before the vote, to demand free and fair elections in this former Soviet state after a tense campaign marred by attacks on both sides.

Demonstrators from around the country massed outside the offices of the central electoral commission, wearing armbands or scarves and waving flags in the color orange that signifies support for Mr. Yushchenko in the Oct. 31 ballot.

Youths wearing the armbands broke windows at the commission building as the demonstration ended. Six, whose identities were not released, were detained by police for questioning, Interfax news agency said.

Mr. Yushchenko’s face still bears traces of a mysterious illness that has disrupted his campaign, and he has asserted that he was the target of a poisoning attempt by pro-government forces.

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