- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 10, 2005

NETHERLANDS

Population rise slows as immigration falls

AMSTERDAM — The rate of growth of the Dutch population fell to its lowest in 85 years in 2004 as immigration slowed and emigration accelerated, partly because of tighter government policies on foreigners, data showed yesterday.

The Dutch population grew by 34,000 to 16.3 million in 2004, half the increase of the previous year and the lowest growth recorded since 1920, the Central Bureau of Statistics said.



TOGO

New president offers amnesty

LOME — Togo’s new president addressed the nation yesterday for the first time since succeeding his father in a move that drew international condemnation, and he offered talks with the exiled opposition and promised general elections as soon as possible.

President Faure Gnassingbe’s speech on state TV and radio came as a partial strike against his fledgling rule entered a second day in the capital and as West African leaders prepared to hold an emergency summit in Niger to discuss the succession.

BRITAIN

Blair apologizes over IRA bombing

LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a public apology yesterday to members of two families whose wrongful imprisonment for IRA bombings three decades ago was dramatized in the film “In the Name of the Father.”

Members of the Conlon and Maguire families were jailed in connection with Irish Republican Army bombings in Guildford and Woolwich in England in 1974. The attacks killed seven persons and injured more than 100.

ITALY

Helicopter pilots win cowardice case

ROME — An Italian military tribunal has thrown out cowardice charges against four pilots who had refused to fly in Iraq because of the poor state of their helicopters, the men’s attorney said yesterday.

The ruling was a blow for the army and raised fresh doubts about the effectiveness of Italy’s military hardware.

The four pilots served in Iraq last year, but after flying just one mission they refused to take to the air again, saying their helicopters did not have adequate anti-missile protection.

RUSSIA

Government survives no-confidence vote

MOSCOW — Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov easily survived a vote of no-confidence in parliament yesterday, but most pro-Kremlin lawmakers snubbed the vote in a clear show of dissatisfaction with his government.

At least 226 votes in the 450-seat parliament were needed for the motion to stand. Only 136 deputies took part. Of those, 112 voted in favor of the motion, 20 against and four abstained.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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