- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 20, 2006

FRANCE

Chirac presses flesh as scandal rages

MULHOUSE — President Jacques Chirac went out to the man in the street in this eastern French city yesterday to show he had the people more in mind than a major political scandal dogging him in Paris.

He officially opened a bridge over the River Rhine and a new streetcar system, appearing unfazed by the so-called “Clearstream” affair that has rocked his government.

In the last three weeks, the scandal has dominated France’s political agenda, with Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin accused of setting up a secret investigation into claims that his archrival, Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, benefited from illegal commissions paid via a Luxembourg bank called Clearstream.

The claims turned out to be false, and Mr. Sarkozy claims he was the victim of a smear campaign in advance of the 2007 presidential elections, in which he is expected to be a leading candidate.

GERMANY

Lawmaker injured in racial attack

BERLIN — A member of Berlin’s regional assembly who is of Turkish origin is in a hospital after being attacked by two men who called him a “dirty foreigner,” police said yesterday.

Gyasettin Sayan, 56, who represents the neo-communist Left Party, suffered head injuries and bruising Friday when he was struck by a bottle in a street in his Lichtenberg ward in the east of the city.

Police offered a $3,600 reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers. The Lichtenberg district is known as a stronghold of neo-Nazis in Berlin.

RUSSIA

Loren, Lange give hope to sick children

MOSCOW — Movie stars Sophia Loren and Jessica Lange appeared in Moscow yesterday to raise Russian awareness of orphans and sick children, warning of the stigmatization of children who are HIV-positive.

The two actresses were in Moscow for a ceremony today and to award the Heart of Gold prize for charity works.

“If I can do something for those in need, I’m always ready to do so,” Miss Loren told reporters. Money raised from the event will go to help children in need of heart and brain operations.

ITALY

Civilians to replace troops in Iraq

ROME — Italy is set to review the role of its troops in Iraq and plans to switch to a civilian rather than military presence in the country, its new foreign minister, Massimo D’Alema, said yesterday.

“From next week, the government will launch a plan to redefine the nature of the Italian presence in Iraq, which will become a civilian presence,” Italy’s ANSA news agency quoted Mr. D’Alema as saying in the southern city of Naples.

Italy currently has 2,600 soldiers stationed in Iraq.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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