Monday, April 24, 2006


Socialist coalition wins re-election

BUDAPEST — The Socialist-led governing coalition won runoff parliamentary ballots yesterday, becoming Hungary’s first administration to win re-election since communism fell.

With nearly all voting districts counted, the National Election Office projected that the Socialists and their coalition partners ended up with 210 of the legislature’s 386 seats. Two center-right parties had 175 seats, and an independent candidate got one seat.

Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany, 44, is a former communist youth leader during the Cold War era who became one of Hungary’s richest businessmen. He campaigned on promises to provide his people with peace and security while improving their economic competitiveness.


Swap of prisoners discussed in talks

SEOUL — South Korea yesterday proposed sending captured North Korean spies home in exchange for the release of South Korean citizens thought held in the communist North.

The overture was made a day after Seoul hinted at economic assistance to Pyongyang if it cooperates in addressing the issue of an estimated 486 South Koreans abducted by the North and still thought to be living there.

South Korea also says the North is holding 542 others taken prisoner during the 1950-53 Korean War.


King, opposition head for showdown

KATMANDU — Nepal’s opposition rallied its supporters today to take the fight to curb the power of King Gyanendra to the gates of his palace, as the government imposed a fresh daytime curfew in the capital.

Opposition leaders announced a major demonstration for tomorrow in Katmandu after 18 days of a general strike and protests demanding an end to the monarch’s absolute rule. The government’s curfew will run from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., according to Nepal’s state-run television.

Thousands of protesters defied a curfew yesterday to chant slogans against the king, but the demonstrations seemed less intense and more peaceful than in recent days. At least 23 persons were injured in clashes between police and protesters across the city, some hit by rubber bullets, said an official at a private hospital.


Realignment deal reached with U.S.

The United States and Japan have struck a bargain over a plan to realign U.S. forces in Japan, with Tokyo agreeing to pay $6.1 billion of the nearly $10.3 billion cost, the Japanese defense chief said last night.

Japanese Defense Minister Fukushiro Nukaga told reporters after his meeting in Washington with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld that Japan wanted to have an appropriate sharing of costs in transferring 8,000 Marines from Okinawa to the Pacific island of Guam. Japan has offered to pay $2.8 billion, and the remainder of its $6.1 billion share would take the form of loans to the United States.

“We have come to an understanding that we both feel is in the best interests of our two countries,” Mr. Rumsfeld said after the meeting.


Chimps kill driver, injure Westerners

FREETOWN — A group of chimpanzees fatally attacked a Sierra Leonean driver yesterday and injured two American visitors and one Canadian at a wildlife sanctuary in the West African nation, a police spokesman said.

Paramilitary police and forest rangers were searching dense jungle to see whether they could capture the chimpanzees after the attack at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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