- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 6, 2005

BRITAIN

G-7 agrees to debt relief

LONDON — Finance ministers from the Group of Seven industrial nations said yesterday they were willing to provide up to 100 percent debt relief to the world’s poorest nations, but insisted that developing countries ensure the money would be spent wisely.

Britain’s Treasury chief, Gordon Brown, said at the close of the G-7 summit in London that debt relief would be “agreed on a case-by-case basis.”

After a two-day meeting in London, G-7 finance ministers said developing countries must have “sound, accountable and transparent institutions” and develop policies for poverty reduction and sustained economic growth. Britain has made tackling poverty in Africa and the developing world a priority.

FRANCE

Workers want to keep 35-hour week

PARIS — Hundreds of thousands took part in demonstrations across the country yesterday to protest government plans to change the 35-hour workweek.

Organized by an alliance of trade unions and backed by the opposition Socialist Party (PS), more than a half-million people took part in marches in 100 towns and cities — with 90,000 joining the largest demonstration in Paris. Police put the overall figure at slightly more than 250,000.

The protests came as a bill to enable private-sector employees to opt for longer workweeks makes its way through parliament. Polls showed that nearly 70 percent of the public support the protests.

AFGHANISTAN

Crashed jet found; 104 feared dead

KABUL — The wreckage of a missing Afghan jet was found yesterday in mountains east of the capital Kabul with all 104 persons on board feared dead, an Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The wreckage was found in mountains 12 miles east of Kabul. The area this week has been blanketed by heavy snow, which was preventing search teams from reaching the wreckage to check for survivors.

There were 23 confirmed foreign nationals aboard the aircraft, including six Americans and four Russian crew members.

BRITAIN

Boutros-Ghali refuses blame in oil-for-food

LONDON — Former U.N. head Boutros Boutros-Ghali refused to take the blame for Iraq’s scandal-tainted oil-for-food program yesterday, pointing the finger at his successor, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Boutros-Ghali was U.N. secretary-general at the start of the program, which was designed to allow Iraq to buy food and medicine to ease hardships caused by U.N. economic sanctions.

“The basis [of the program] was decided by the Security Council, approved by the Security Council. The execution was done during the mandate of my successor,” Mr. Boutros-Ghali told BBC radio.

TOGO

Longtime ruler dies; army appoints son

LOME — Togolese President Gnassingbe Eyadema, Africa’s longest-serving ruler, died yesterday after 38 years in power and the army named his son as his successor.

A senior African Union official described the move as a military coup.

The army, saying it could not risk a power vacuum, sealed the West African country’s borders and named 39-year-old Faure Gnassingbe president shortly after the government announced the death of the 69-year-old leader while he was seeking emergency medical treatment abroad.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, chairman of the African Union, called the appointment unconstitutional.


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