- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 11, 2006

Bird flu strikes Western Europe

ROME — Greece and Italy reported their first cases of the deadly H5N1 bird-flu strain in birds within their borders.

In Italy, the virus was found in swans in three Italian regions: Puglia and Calabria in southern Italy, and Sicily, said Health Minister Francesco Storace. Greece’s agriculture minister said tests confirmed three swans in northern Greece died of the H5N1 strain.

Neither nation has reported a case of human infection.

ITALY

Parliament dissolved; April elections planned

ROME — Italy dissolved its parliament yesterday and scheduled elections for early April, opening a campaign that pits Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi against a strong center-left opponent.

The government set the date during a Cabinet meeting minutes after the Italian president signed a decree that dissolved parliament, ending a five-year legislature.

Parliament ended two weeks later than originally planned, after Mr. Berlusconi negotiated a delay that allowed his government to rush through a flurry of last-minute legislation.

BRITAIN

Arrested airline pilot thought to be drunk

MANCHESTER — An American Airlines pilot was arrested at Manchester Airport on suspicion of being drunk yesterday shortly before his flight was due to take off, police and the airline said.

One of three pilots on Flight 55 to Chicago had been arrested before the flight boarded on suspicion of being intoxicated, airline spokesman Tim Wagner said.

The flight, scheduled to depart at 10:30 a.m. local time, left the northwestern English city about an hour late and was due to stop in New York to pick up a new pilot before continuing to Chicago. Three pilots are required on flights lasting longer than eight hours.

GERMANY

Diplomats urge U.S. to free Gitmo inmate

BERLIN — German diplomats in Washington are negotiating with the United States for the release of a German citizen held for almost four years at the U.S. detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Bernhard Docke, lawyer for the prisoner Murat Kurnaz, 23, said he expected a result from the negotiations in the “near future.”

Kurnaz, a Turk born in the north German city of Bremen, was arrested in 2002 by American forces in Pakistan, where he had moved in 2001.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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