News In Brief
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European Union foreign ministers agreed to resume ministerial contacts with Iran. An EU statement said that since President Mohammad Khatami took power last August, Iran had shown interest in "more constructive exchanges" with Europe. The EU suspended high-level links with Iran last year after a German court ruled that Iranian authorities were directly involved in the assassination of four Kurdish dissidents living in Germany.Skip to next paragraph
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A few hours after Northern Ireland's peace talks resumed, a car bomb exploded in the pro-British town of Portadown. There were no reports of casualties as several anonymous warnings allowed police to evacuate the area. The blast follows last week's announcement of a 17-day suspension of Sinn Fein from the talks. Authorities suspect the party's militant ally, the Irish Republican Army, was involved in two murders in Belfast earlier this month.
A land mine exploded under a bus in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, killing seven soldiers and injuring 37 others that had been providing security for the country's staggered elections. Police suspect Maoist guerrillas, who have called for a boycott of the vote, were responsible. Since voting began Feb. 16, dozens of people have died in related violence.
Former South African President P. W. Botha pleaded innocent to contempt charges for refusing to testify publicly about his role in a plan to crack down on black groups in the 1980s. Botha has ignored three subpoenas to appear before the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which is investigating apartheid-era human-rights abuses. His attorney argued that commission chairman Desmond Tutu had agreed in 1996 that Botha could avoid a court appearance by supplying written answers.
Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze agreed to hold talks with a representative of the gunmen holding three UN military observers since last Thursday. The kidnappers said they were skeptical of the offer.
Special Albanian forces stormed into Shkodr, reclaiming the town after it had been taken over by armed gangs, the Interior Ministry said. At least 10 people were arrested. The gangs had burned public buildings and looted banks in the town after a protest by Albania's main opposition party turned into a riot. The violent outbreak was the most serious incident since Albania plunged into anarchy a year ago after the collapse of fraudulent pyramid investment schemes.
An item in this space Monday, Feb. 23, on a massive power failure in New Zealand's largest city erred on two counts. It correctly placed the outage in Auckland, but called that city the capital. New Zealand's capital is Wellington. The accompanying map also failed to include Auckland.
"It was diplomacy - wise, balanced, United Nations diplomacy -
that enabled us to reach this agreement. Not saber rattling."
- Deputy Iraqi Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, on the proposed weapons-inspection deal reached in Baghdad.
If you're from the North, be advised that Henry Ingram has reconsidered and will let you have his 1,688-acre estate after all - if you've got enough money. The deed to Delta Plantation in Hardeeville, S.C., originally forbade a sale to anyone from the other side of the Mason-Dixon Line or whose name is Sherman, since it once was occupied by Civil War troops commanded by Union Gen. William T. Sherman. Now, you may make Ingram an offer. But you'll first have to sign an oath to be "loyal to the South."
A commercial fishing trip turned out to be a bomb - literally - for a boat based on the Texas gulf coast. Its net pulled in a torpedo whose fins had rusted off. The device was turned over to a Coast Guard unit for disposal.
The Days List
US Women Outperformed Men at Winter Olympics
Carrying on the strong showing by American female athletes at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, the US women's team members outperformed their male counterparts at the just-concluded winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Take away their eight medals and the US would have had its third-worst finish in winter Games history. US medal winners at Nagano:
Ice Hockey (Gold)
Alpine skiing (Super-G) Picabo Street (Gold)
Aerials Nikki Stone (Gold)
Figure skating Tara Lipinski (Gold) Michelle Kwan (Silver)
Speed skating (1,000 meters) Christine Witty (Silver)
Speed skating (1,500 meters) Christine Witty (Bronze)
Snowboarding(half pipe) Shannon Dunn (Bronze)
Freestyle skiing (moguls) Jonny Moseley (Gold)
Aerials Eric Bergoust (Gold)
Luge (doubles) Chris Thorpe/Gordy Sheer (Silver) Mark Grimmette/Brian Martin (Bronze)
Snowboarding (half pipe) Ross Powers (Bronze)