- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

FRANCE

Chirac backs Sarkozy in presidential race

PARIS — French President Jacques Chirac lent his support to Nicolas Sarkozy’s presidential bid yesterday, setting aside long-standing hostility between the pair to strengthen the right’s campaign.

Mr. Chirac steps down after 12 years in office after the second round of the election in May, but he had kept silent over whether he would back his ambitious former protege.

In a brief televised statement Mr. Chirac said Mr. Sarkozy had been chosen as the candidate of the ruling UMP party, a center-right formation he set up in 2002 and which Mr. Sarkozy now leads.

Mr. Chirac said Mr. Sarkozy would step down next week as interior minister, the post in which the 52-year-old made his name as a law and order hard-liner, to focus on his campaign ahead of the first round of the election on April 22.

UKRAINE

Parliament approves foreign minister

KIEV — Ukraine’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a new foreign minister yesterday, ending a nearly two-month battle with President Viktor Yushchenko after he backed down and abandoned his first choice for the job.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk, a 32-year-old former economics minister and close Yushchenko ally, became the new top diplomat after winning 426 votes in the 450-seat parliament. He immediately signaled that he would pursue a pragmatic course, particularly in Ukraine’s bid to join the European Union.

BRITAIN

Two sailors killed in nuke sub accident

LONDON — Two British sailors were killed and another injured yesterday in an accident on a nuclear-powered submarine on exercise in the Arctic, the Ministry of Defense said.

The ministry said the nuclear reactor on board HMS Tireless was not affected, and the submarine “quickly surfaced and is completely safe.” Initial investigations indicated that the accident aboard the hunter-killer submarine involved a piece of air purification equipment in its forward section. It caused only superficial damage.

NIGERIA

Muslim pupils lynch Christian teacher

KANO — An angry mob of Muslim students in northern Nigeria beat their teacher to death yesterday for purportedly desecrating the Koran, police and witnesses said.

Oluwatoyin Olushekan was attacked and killed by the mob in Gandu Secondary School in Tudun Wada district of northern Gombe State. Her attackers accused her of tearing a portion of the Koran she seized from a female student during an examination.

A police spokesman said the students burned the teacher’s car and three blocks of classrooms. The school principal, a Muslim, also was beaten when he tried to shield the woman. Eight persons were arrested and the government has ordered the closure of all secondary schools in the metropolis.

CZECH REPUBLIC

Klaus sees ‘religion’ in climate fight

PRAGUE — Czech President Vaclav Klaus said yesterday that fighting global warming has turned into a “religion” that replaced the ideology of communism and threatens to clip basic freedoms.

The right-wing president, a free-market champion, wrote to the U.S. Congress that adopting tough environmental policies to fight climate change would have destructive impact on national economies.

“Communism has been replaced by the threat of an ambitious environmentalism,” Mr. Klaus wrote in response to questions from the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce.

RUSSIA

Court rules Forbes defamed tycoon

MOSCOW — A Moscow court yesterday ordered Forbes magazine to pay more than $4,000 in compensation to Russia’s richest woman for defaming her in a cover story that suggested she profited from political connections.

Yelena Baturina, who is married to Moscow’s powerful mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, and has a fortune estimated at more than $3 billion, sued the magazine through her company, arguing the story was incorrect and damaged her business reputation.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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