Despite intense political opposition at home, French President Nicolas Sarkozy was expected to make perhaps his boldest move so far in foreign policy Wednesday night: announcing plans to return his nation to full membership in NATO. Although a founding member, France ended participation in the bloc's integrated command 43 years ago under Charles de Gaulle, who also required that its headquarters be relocated from Paris. Sarkozy's declaration is expected to result in a vote of no confidence in his government next week in Parliament.Skip to next paragraph
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If there is to be a Palestinian unity government, Hamas will demand to choose its prime minister as well as a majority of cabinet posts, the militant organization said Wednesday. Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction are in negotiations moderated by Egypt to try to reconcile their differences. But analysts said Hamas's demand likely would dim the prospects for a deal acceptable to Western nations, which shun the ruler of the Gaza Strip. For his part, Abbas has called for a government of nonpartisan technocrats.
Doctors in Sri Lanka removed a critically wounded cabinet minister from life support Wednesday and said he's "on the path of recovery" after being caught in a terrorist bombing blamed on Tamil rebels. Telecommunications Minister Mahinda Wijesekara was the only one of six cabinet ministers attending a Muslim festival to be hurt in the attack Tuesday, which killed 14 other people. Elsewhere, officials said 378 more noncombatants made it to safety from the war zone where government forces and Tamil rebels are battling. The Red Cross claims that up to 150,000 civilians remain trapped, however.
Support for President Marc Ravalomanana of Madagascar appeared to be weakening Wednesday after the leader of a group of mutinying soldiers declared himself in control of the Army. The officer, a colonel who supports opposition leader Andry Rajoelina, left the office of Gen. Edmond Rasolomahandry, claiming the latter had yielded command to him. The president, who promoted Rasolomahandry to the Army leadership only last month, had no immediate comment, reports said.
Opponents of Thailand's prime minister filed a motion in Parliament Wednesday to impeach him on grounds that he holds the office illegitimately. The motion attracted the signatures of 158 of the 480 members of the lower house and was expected to be debated by the end of the month. Analysts said it was unlikely to result in Abhisit Vejjajiva's ouster but could have a negative impact on public sentiment. The upper house of Parliament, which would consider the motion, is almost evenly divided between Abhisit's allies and opponents.
Troubled banking giant UBS of Switzerland acknowledged Wednesday that its loss for 2008 was even greater than initially reported. Last month, UBS posted a $17 billion loss, the largest in Swiss history. Its revised report put the red ink at $18 billion, largely due to the costs of resolving an investigation in the US of its involvement in helping wealthy depositors evade taxes.
A team made up largely of little-known players representing the Netherlands stunned the heavily favored Dominican Republic for the second time in less than a week in the World Baseball Classic. The Dutch won 2-1 in 11 innings Tuesday night, earning an unlikely appearance in the second round of the tournament. Earlier, the Netherlands won 3-2 over a Dominican team that featured such major league superstars as David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox, Hanley Ramirez of the Florida Marlins, and Miguel Tejada of the Houston Astros.