- The Washington Times - Monday, January 28, 2008

CZECH REPUBLIC

Minister defends missile-shield plan

PRAGUE — Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg criticized Russian opposition to the planned U.S. missile shield in a television interview yesterday, accusing Moscow of trying to recoup Soviet-era influence.

Discussing Russia’s opposition to U.S. plans to expand its anti-missile shield into Europe, he told Czech public television: “It is all part of a political game about influence in Europe.

“Russia is attempting to attain what it had under the Soviet Union, having the joint possibility of deciding the fate of Europe,” he added.



FRANCE

Choice is stressed in arms-sale pitch

NEW DELHI — France is counting on India’s traditional nonalignment to sell fighter aircraft and nuclear reactors to New Delhi, in the face of stiff competition from Moscow and particularly Washington, officials say.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy left India on Saturday night after sending a “clear message to the Indians,” a presidential adviser said, describing Mr. Sarkozy’s message as “choose French civilian nuclear equipment to be independent of the Americans.”

Dassault Aviation put forward the same argument to sell its Rafale fighters, which have yet to be sold outside France.

SPAIN

Taxes and day care feature in platform

MADRID — Spain’s ruling Socialist Party yesterday adopted a platform for a closely fought March 9 election that proposes tax cuts, a minimum-wage increase and a doubling of the number of day care spaces.

“My first objective will be to help women reconcile their professional and family lives,” Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said at the end of a two-day party gathering in Madrid.

The platform vows to create 300,000 new day care places over the course of the next four-year legislature if the Socialists, who trail the conservative opposition Popular Party by a slim margin, are re-elected.

BULGARIA

President vows no funds misuse

SOFIA — Bulgaria will not allow the misappropriation of money from EU funds, President Georgi Parvanov said yesterday after a corruption scandal prompted the European Union to freeze subsidy payments for infrastructure.

“Let one thing be clear: We have firm commitments to defend [the proper use of] our taxpayers’ as well as the European taxpayers’ money. We cannot compromise with that,” Mr. Parvanov said.

The European Commission froze EU subsidy payments to Bulgaria after two officials at the country’s roads agency were arrested and put under investigation on suspicion of demanding a $37,000 payoff to authorize construction on agricultural land.

UKRAINE

Six youths killed on railroad tracks

KIEV — Six youths were killed yesterday in western Ukraine after being hit by a passenger train as they walked along the tracks, the Ukrainian Railway said.

The train “fatally injured six young people” in the early hours as they returned from a village nightclub, the company said.

The five males and one female were between the ages of 15 and 19, according to preliminary information. The conductor saw the group but was unable to halt the train in time, the company said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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