- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008


Mediterranean plan watered down

BRUSSELS — European Union leaders gave a guarded welcome yesterday to a watered-down version of French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s grand design for a Mediterranean Union to boost ties with the bloc’s southern neighbors.

Mr. Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel were to present the plan to a 27-nation EU summit yesterday evening after months of fierce resistance by Berlin forced Paris to drop the most controversial features.

The concept, to be launched in Paris on July 13, has shrunk from an international forum grouping only states with a Mediterranean coast, with nine new agencies and a bank, to a mere annual summit of EU and Mediterranean basin countries with a joint presidency and a small secretariat.


U.S. insists on full nuke list

GENEVA — North Korea must include everything about its nuclear weapons program in a promised declaration, Washington’s top nuclear negotiator said yesterday as he sat down for talks with officials from Pyongyang.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he is willing to be flexible on the format — but “the declaration has to be a complete and correct declaration.”

He met with North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-gwan at Pyongyang’s request to see whether they can make a breakthrough in stalled diplomatic talks over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.


Gay Iranian get

asylum reprieve

LONDON — Britain granted a gay Iranian teenager a reprieve yesterday from deportation to Iran, where he says he could be hanged for his homosexuality.

Interior Minister Jacqui Smith said 19-year-old Mehdi Kazemi’s appeal for asylum in Britain should be reconsidered after senior British lawmakers urged her earlier yesterday to show mercy.

Mr. Kazemi came to Britain to study in 2005. He later learned that his lover in Iran had been hanged after being charged and convicted of sodomy. Fearing for his life, Mr. Kazemi sought asylum in Britain, but his request was rejected. He fled to the Netherlands and sought asylum there, but a Dutch court this week turned down his application, saying as he had to return to Britain to pursue his case.


Man arrested after runway run

LONDON — Armed police arrested a man carrying a backpack who ran onto a runway at London’s Heathrow Airport yesterday, authorities said. Police performed a controlled explosion on the bag, but no explosives were found.

Plane Stupid, a protest group demonstrating against airport expansion in Britain, said it was not involved. Queen Elizabeth II is due to visit Heathrow today to open the airport’s new Terminal 5.


President dissolves parliament

BELGRADE — Serbia’s president dissolved parliament yesterday and called an early election that should determine whether the country aligns itself with the European Union and other Western groups or returns to its isolationist past.

Serbia’s coalition government collapsed last weekend following a rift between pro-Western President Boris Tadic and nationalist Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica over Kosovo’s independence and Serbia’s EU integration.


Court approves extradition to U.S.

SAO PAULO — Purported Colombian drug lord Juan Carlos Ramirez Abadia can be extradited to the United States to face racketeering charges, Brazil’s Supreme Court ruled yesterday.

Now Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva will have the final word on whether to extradite Mr. Ramirez Abadia, accused of being a leader of Colombia’s powerful Norte del Valle cartel.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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