- The Washington Times - Friday, March 17, 2006

FRANCE

Chirac urges talks with students

PARIS — President Jacques Chirac yesterday urged immediate government talks with students and unions to defuse escalating anger over a new labor law that sparked nationwide marches and clashes with police.

A quarter of a million people took to streets in some 200 demonstrations around France on Thursday in a test of strength between youth and 73-year-old Mr. Chirac’s conservative government.

“The government is ready for dialogue. For my part, I hope it starts as quickly as possible,” Mr. Chirac said during a ceremony at the presidential palace.

NETHERLANDS

No poison found in Milosevic’s body

THE HAGUE — An autopsy and tests on Slobodan Milosevic’s blood found no evidence of poison or drugs in concentrations that could have killed him, the U.N. war crimes tribunal said yesterday.

Tribunal president Judge Fausto Pocar also said an outside investigation will be conducted on the running of the U.N. detention center where Mr. Milosevic was held during his trial and where he died March 11.

Mr. Milosevic was ruled to have died of a heart attack, but questions were raised by his son and his supporters about the cause of death after it was reported he had been taking medicines that were not prescribed by the U.N. cardiologist.

CHINA

Charges dropped against researcher

BEIJING — A Chinese court yesterday dropped charges against a Chinese researcher for the New York Times who was accused of leaking state secrets, his lawyer said, about a month ahead of a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to Washington.

Zhao Yan, who worked for the Times’ Beijing bureau, was detained in September 2004, prompting an outcry by press-freedom groups.

“The prosecutor decided to drop the case and the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate Court agreed,” defense lawyer Mo Shaoping said. He said Mr. Zhao was in a detention center but was expected to be released “very soon.”

ISRAEL

Thousands of turkeys ordered destroyed

JERUSALEM — Israeli officials yesterday ordered tens of thousands of turkeys destroyed as they awaited final word on whether the country has experienced its first outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

About 11,000 turkeys have died in recent days, and after preliminary tests, Health Minister Yaakov Edri said there was a “very high chance that this is avian flu.”

“We are already pretty sure it is avian flu, but of course, there are more tests to be done,” Mr. Edri told Army Radio.

LIBERIA

Ex-president called to stand trial

NEW YORK — Liberia has formally asked Nigeria to hand over former President Charles Taylor to a special U.N. court so he can stand trial on war crimes charges, the country’s newly elected leader said yesterday.

“A decision should be taken that would allow Mr. Taylor to have his day in court,” Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf said after briefing the U.N. Security Council. “It is time to bring the Taylor issue to closure.”

Mrs. Johnson-Sirleaf, who took office as Africa’s first elected female president in January, said Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo had agreed to consult with other African leaders before acting as they had been involved in the 2003 decision to let Mr. Taylor flee Liberia for exile in Nigeria.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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