Five Iraqi diplomats expelled from Romania

Tuesday, March 11, 2003

BUCHAREST, Romania -- Five Iraqi diplomats were expelled from Romania over the weekend for "activities incompatible with their status," diplomatic jargon for spying.

The Foreign Ministry announced the expulsions Monday but did not identify the diplomats. Spokesman Costin Dobran later said Iraq's ambassador to Romania, Majid Saad Hamid, was not among them.

Nobody answered the phones at the embassy.

Interior Minister Ioan Rus also said an unspecified number of Iraqi citizens would be expelled from the country on Monday and today "for security reasons." He said there were "several reasons," for the expulsions, declining to go into detail.

Rus stressed that Iraqis involved in "economic, cultural or tourist activity" were welcome in Romania.

In a brief statement sent to The Associated Press, the foreign ministry said the diplomats were asked to leave last Saturday.

Colombian rebels deny responsibility for car bomb

BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's largest rebel group denied responsibility for a Feb. 7 car bombing that killed 36 people, saying its members condemn acts of terrorism.

In a statement posted on its Web site Sunday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said it determined after a "patient, rigorous and earnest investigation" that none of its members were involved in the attack on the exclusive Club El Nogal.

Colombian authorities blamed the FARC a day after the bomb exploded in the parking lot of the club, killing 36 people and wounding 160. It was the worst terrorist attack in Colombia in more than a decade.

The group, on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist groups, condemned terrorism and claimed that the government planted the bomb and blamed the FARC in efforts to unite the country against the rebels.

The FARC has admitted taking various hostages in its 38-year war with the government, often to pressure the Colombian government to release rebels in jail, but rarely comments on bombings it is blamed for.

Report: Only one-third of Russian children healthy

MOSCOW -- Only one-third of Russia's children are healthy, a decline of seven percent in 10 years, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Monday.

A countrywide pediatric health survey carried out last year found that 33 percent of the 31.6 million Russians age 18 and under are in good health, Deputy Health Care Minister Olga Sharapova was quoted as telling ITAR-Tass.

The rest suffer from some type of health problem, the report said, without specifying what the leading illnesses were. In the past, officials have said the problems are primarily bronchial and respiratory illnesses.

Sharapova told ITAR-Tass that poor hygiene and sanitation at schools was often to blame for poor child health. But she also said improved diagnosis techniques have boosted numbers because diseases are being recognized earlier.

Chanel by Lagerfeld is a fashion hit again

PARIS -- Outfits trimmed in lace and tweed suits with jet beading gave Karl Lagerfeld another big hit in his Monday winter ready-to-wear show for Chanel.

This followed an equally elegant and successful show of his own line, Gallery Lagerfeld, last week, which was clean, lean and different from the more elaborate couture style of Chanel.

He called the Chanel collection White Light, and it was indeed lit up with whites, some transparency and plenty of sparkle to evoke the Northern Lights or the light of snow.

"This collection was marvelous, full of joie de vivre," said Joan Kaner, fashion director of Neiman Marcus.

"Lagerfeld tops himself every time," she added. "It's full of original touches, and yet there is always something quite classical and wearable."

-- From wire reports

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