World briefs 2/28/06

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Taiwan leader halts China unification panel

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's president shut down the committee responsible for unifying with rival China Monday, significantly deepening tensions in the region. China blasted the move. After a meeting with the National Security Council, President Chen Shui-bian announced he was ending the National Unification Council and doing away with its guidelines, which commit Taiwan to eventual unification with the mainland. Chen's move came despite dire warnings from Beijing. "His further escalation of secessionist activities will no doubt stoke tensions and trigger a serious crisis in the Straits," the official China Daily said in an editorial today.

EU grants Palestinians $143 million urgent aid

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- The European Union agreed Monday to grant $145 million in urgent aid to the Palestinians before a government led by the Islamic militant group Hamas takes power, a move aimed at preventing a financial collapse that could add to the chaos in the Middle East. But the EU kept silent on what it would do once Hamas assumes control of the Palestinian government. French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said the aid was required to avoid "economic chaos" from paralyzing the Palestinian Authority.

IAEA: Iran determined to expand enrichment

VIENNA, Austria -- Iran appears determined to expand its uranium enrichment program, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report Monday. The U.N. watchdog, in a confidential report made available to The Associated Press, said Iran plans to start setting up thousands of uranium enriching centrifuges this year even as it negotiates with Russia on scrapping such domestic activity.

After heist, revised audit shows $92 million missing

LONDON-- A new audit showed thieves stole the equivalent of about $92 million during last week's heist at a southeast England cash depot, police said Monday, describing the second-largest cash theft in recent history. The haul was second only to the looting of Iraq's central bank during the U.S.-led invasion. Still, it was the biggest cash theft in British history.

-- From wire reports

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