- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 29, 2006

UKRAINE

Adversaries meet on coalition

KIEV — President Viktor Yushchenko met separately yesterday with both his estranged Orange Revolution ally and an old pro-Moscow adversary as he sought to form a coalition after most of Ukraine’s voters rejected his party in parliamentary elections Sunday.

Ukrainian television showed Mr. Yushchenko sitting opposite former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko at a big, round table in their first formal meeting since he fired her six months ago as their Orange Revolution alliance from 2004 splintered.

Mr. Yushchenko’s meeting with pro-Russian opposition leader Viktor Yanukovych also revived bitter memories of the 2004 election, a hard-fought contest that deeply divided the nation.

Mr. Yanukovych’s party won the most votes, but not a majority, according to incomplete results of the Sunday elections. Mrs. Tymoshenko’s party came in second and Mr. Yushchenko’s party finished third.

VATICAN CITY

Pope aims to visit China

HONG KONG — Pope Benedict XVI told a delegation from Hong Kong that he will visit China in what would be an extraordinary papal visit to the communist nation, but he said the trip’s timing depends on “God’s wish,” press reports said yesterday.

One of the Vatican’s goals is to restart official relations with China, which forced its Roman Catholics to cut ties with the Holy See in 1951 after the officially atheist Communist Party took power. People can worship only in government-controlled churches.

Pope John Paul II, the most-traveled pontiff in history, was unable to visit China during his 26-year papacy. Pope Paul VI made a three-hour stopover in Hong Kong in 1970 when it was a British colony. No pope has visited mainland China.

ITALY

Berlusconi opposes multiethnic diversity

ROME — Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said he does not want Italy to become a multiethnic, multicultural country, drawing plaudits from a right-wing ally and criticism from center-left opponents.

Mr. Berlusconi, a conservative, faces a stiff challenge in a national election next month, with opinion polls putting him behind his opponent, Romano Prodi, a former prime minister.

The poor economy, a main worry for voters in this election, has fed concerns about immigration raised by right-wing parties in Mr. Berlusconi’s coalition, although the kind of work usually performed by immigrants is shunned by many Italians. Surveys show that some Italians also perceive immigrants as being linked to crime.

EUROPEAN UNION

10 million fake coins in circulation

BRUSSELS — More than 10 million fake euro coins may be in circulation in the 12 nations sharing the euro even though police have stepped up seizures in the past year, the European Commission said yesterday.

“Counterfeiting activity continues to increase in 2005, as indicated by the increasing diversity of counterfeit euro coins, where the number of types rose by half,” the commission said in a report on counterfeit coins for last year.

Nevertheless, the figure of 10 million pieces was a drop in the bucket of the total 63 billion euro coins in circulation.

NETHERLANDS

Immigration debate centers on student

THE HAGUE — An Amsterdam court will hear the case next week of a Kosovar student whose fight to finish school in the Netherlands has put her at the center of an immigration debate, a court spokeswoman said.

Taida Pasic, 18, who speaks perfect Dutch and wants to finish high school here, became a poster child for all those in the Netherlands opposing the harsher immigration policies championed by Immigration Minister Rita Verdonk.

In January, she was taken out of school by the Dutch immigration services and put into a detention center to await deportation because she is in the Netherlands illegally. Her detention caused an uproar in the Netherlands, and a court ruled that she had to be set free.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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