- The Washington Times - Friday, February 25, 2005

AUSTRIA

U.S. ready to set deadline for allies

VIENNA — The United States is ready to give European allies until June to convince Iran to abandon its development of nuclear weapons before seeking U.N. sanctions, U.S. diplomatic documents show.

According to the draft position paper, the United States is ready to give EU-Iran negotiations until the mid-June U.N. Security Council meeting. If they fail, it will renew its campaign to have the International Atomic Energy Agency refer Iran to the Security Council.



FRANCE

High-living minister resigns finance post

PARIS — France’s embattled finance minister resigned yesterday after accusations he used government money to rent an $18,500-a-month apartment for his family while curbing public spending as a Cabinet member.

Herve Gaymard’s announcement that he was stepping down came just hours before a planned TV appearance to answer questions about the scandal that has embarrassed President Jacques Chirac’s government.

The revelations were embarrassing not least because the government has been seeking to control public spending and an unemployment rate that reached 10 percent in January for the first time in five years.

UNITED STATES

Pilots awarded French medal

Seven American pilots who flew secret missions in 1954 to help embattled French troops at Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam have been awarded the French Legion of Honor.

The French Embassy in Washington announced the tribute, with Ambassador Jean-David Levitte saying: “We are celebrating the courage of these pilots who carried out numerous missions above Dien Bien Phu.”

The 57-day siege of French troops in 1954 was a tragic turning point in France’s battle to preserve its colonial status in Indochina.

CONGO

Nine Bangladesh peacekeepers killed

KINSHASA — Nine U.N. peacekeepers were killed by attackers while on patrol in northeastern Congo yesterday, a U.N. spokesman said.

The victims were among 21 Bangladeshis patrolling near a camp housing civilians displaced by persistent fighting in Ituri. No immediate word was given on the identity of the attackers, though suspicion fell on the militia of Ituri’s Lendu tribe.

LEBANON

U.N. team begins murder probe

BEIRUT— A U.N. fact-finding team began its inquiry yesterday into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon’s Syrian-backed government had rejected calls for an international investigation into the Feb. 14 bombing that killed Mr. Hariri and 17 others. However, it has pledged to cooperate with the U.N. mission, which is to meet officials and visit the bomb site, but does not have investigative powers.

Mr. Harari’s killing has been blamed by many on Syria.

HAITI

U.N. forces attacked as violence surges

PORT-AU-PRINCE — Dozens of protesters burned tires and threw rocks at U.N. peacekeepers in a Port-au-Prince slum yesterday, accusing them of standing by while Haitian police fatally shot at least two men and left their bodies in a nearby street. U.N. troops said they did not know how the men died.

They were the latest among 10 victims shot and killed in escalating violence in the capital.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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