For the first time since his capture last year, ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein met with a lawyer from his defense team as the interim government prepared to put his former deputies on trial for war crimes. No date for Hussein's trial has been set; officials say he'll probably be the last of his regime to go before the tribunal. Meanwhile, the commission that will oversee the first free election in decades Jan. 30 closed the registration period for would-be candidates. It said 100 political parties, multi-party coalitions, or independent individuals signed up to contest the poll.
Despite misgivings, the leaders of the 25 European Union states appeared on the verge of setting a date for the start of negotiations to admit mostly Muslim Turkey to full membership. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said he expected the negotiations to begin by next summer, and aides said he'd request that they not be described in the final summit communique as "open-ended" and that there be no reference to possible safeguards against waves of Turks emigrating to Europe in search of work. But EU sources said both references probably would be in the communique.
Planned demonstrations against the royal family by tens of thousands of protesters in Saudi Arabia's two main cities were prevented by security forces, and unconfirmed reports said the number of arrests was large. The marches in Riyadh, the capital, and the port of Jiddah were to have been the third in a series called by a leading Saudi exiled dissident. But he was able to mobilize only a few hundred followers last year, who quickly dispersed when police used tear gas against them. Last month, scheduled demonstrations failed even to get that far.
An appeal for calm was issued by the Greek government in the wake of a bus-hijacking drama that ended with two Albanian immigrants facing charges of kidnapping and attempted murder. The hijackers surrendered, and passengers aboard the bus were released unharmed, 18 hours after a standoff began with police on the outskirts of Athens. A crowd outside police headquarters jeered as the suspects were taken before a prosecutor Thursday. Ten percent of Greece's population is foreign-born, and the matter has become increasingly sensitive.