- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

IRELAND

Voters warm to EU treaty

DUBLIN | A majority of Irish people would vote “yes” in a planned second referendum on the European Union’s reform treaty, a poll showed Sunday.

Ireland’s rejection last year of the treaty - a successor to the defunct EU constitution and aimed at improving decision making in Brussels - has slowed integration efforts just as EU backers say the 27-country bloc needs to show it can take quick, coordinated action to tackle the financial crisis.

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen said last month that he was prepared to hold another vote on the treaty on the basis of concessions Dublin has secured.

The Sunday Independent/ Quantum Research poll showed that 55 percent would back the treaty in a fresh referendum, up from 39 percent canvassed in the previous survey conducted in December.

The concessions include the retention of a permanent commissioner, and others in the sensitive areas of military neutrality, taxation policy and workers’ rights. They were made as part of an effort to have all 27 member states ratify the treaty by Jan. 1, 2010.

RUSSIA

Medvedev presses Putin on economy

MOSCOW | Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has criticized his government led by close ally Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for being too slow to implement measures to tackle the economic crisis, local news agencies said Sunday.

They reported Mr. Medvedev as saying that only 30 percent of Russia’s plans announced three months ago had been implemented. Mr. Medvedev’s rebuke was unusual because he and Mr. Putin, the powerful former president, frequently boast of their close relations.

Russia has been hit hard by the crisis, with the stock market falling by almost 70 percent last year, the ruble 17 percent off against the dollar and euro basket, prices for major exports down sharply and many large companies laying off staff.

Mr. Medvedev was personally endorsed by Mr. Putin as a presidential candidate and went on to an easy win in the March election.

VATICAN

Former envoy on Iraq dies

VATICAN CITY | Cardinal Pio Laghi, a longtime Vatican diplomat who went to Washington to try to dissuade President Bush from launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has died, the Vatican said Sunday. He was 86.

Cardinal Laghi died Saturday evening at a Rome hospital, where he had been treated for some time, Vatican Radio said.

Pope John Paul II tapped Cardinal Laghi, a former envoy to Washington, in 2003 to meet with Mr. Bush on the eve of war. Cardinal Laghi was trying to prevent what he said was a morally and legally unjustified invasion.

Cardinal Laghi, who had been friendly with the Bush family, delivered a letter from John Paul and pressed Mr. Bush on whether he was doing everything to avert war.

FRANCE

Actor arrested in street stabbing

PARIS | French actor Samy Naceri, who starred in the World War II film “Days of Glory,” was jailed Sunday after being charged with stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s companion in a confrontation on a Paris street, judicial officials said.

Mr. Naceri, 47, was charged with armed voluntary violence. He also was charged with making repeated death threats, said the actor’s attorney Francoise Cotta.

The preliminary charges, which could be dropped if an investigation fails to turn up clear evidence, followed a confrontation Thursday near Paris’ Champs-Elysees Avenue.

Mr. Naceri and his ex-girlfriend were arguing, and her boyfriend was called to the scene, the judicial official said. The man was stabbed, but his injuries were not considered life-threatening.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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